Medical Education Research Unit

The Medical Education Research Unit (MERU) in the Office of Education conducts and supports education research and scholarship at Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM). The MERU was established in 2015, by Dr. Alison Whelan, WUSM’s previous Senior Associate Dean for Education, Dr. Dorothy Andriole, and Dr. Donna Jeffe who was the inaugural Director of MERU. Dr. Whelan and Dr. Andriole are currently at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Dr. Janice Hanson joined the faculty of WUSM in January 2019 and joined Dr. Jeffe as co-director. Ms. Maria Pérez is also an essential member of the MERU team and has been Dr. Jeffe’s Project Manager for 16 years in both clinical and educational research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Ms. Pérez plays a key role in managing educational research and scholarship in the MERU, organizing research tasks and projects, and managing requests that come to MERU for consultation or assistance with distribution of surveys to WUSM medical students.

MERU has three priority areas of education research and scholarship: diversity, equity and inclusion in medical education, assessment in medical and health professions education, and professional identify formation. Dr. Jeffe has been Principal Investigator (PI) of NIH-funded research for more than 20 years. Currently, she is PI of a medical-education research project focusing on interventions that increase the diversity of the physician-scientist workforce. For this project, she has received continual funding from NIH since 2008.  Dr. Jeffe collaborates extensively with medical students, residents, fellows and faculty at WUSM and other medical schools in the U.S. and abroad. Dr. Hanson also collaborates with medical students, residents, fellows, and faculty at WUSM, other medical schools, and internationally. Dr. Hanson is working with Dr. Amanda Emke, Director of Assessment for the Gateway Curriculum, to build the research effort in assessment. Dr. Hanson and Dr. Emke each conducts research about assessment in the health professions, and they are also collaborating with Dr. Eve Colson and others on research about assessment in the Gateway Curriculum. Dr. Hanson is also working with Dr. Colleen Wallace and a team of humanities experts to build a research effort in professional identity formation and incorporate art, literature, film, and music in the curriculum in support of professional identity formation. In addition, Dr. Hanson is leading a multi-site study focusing on disparities in clerkship grading, which is funded by the Association of American Medical Colleges, Group on Educational Affairs; Dr. Eve Colson, co-PI, Dr. Jeffe, Dr. Aagaard, and Ms. Pérez are also on the team. In addition, MERU is working with the Gateway Curriculum Community Engagement Group to evaluate anti-racism curriculum activities at WUSM. We welcome additional collaborators in these priority areas of education research and scholarship.

MERU is a resource for faculty, students, residents, and fellows engaged in education research and scholarship. MERU works with the Academy of Educators to coordinate a competitive small grants program for educational scholarship projects led by WUSM faculty members. In addition, anyone can request a research/scholarship consultation by submitting a request for consultation on the MERU webpage ( MERU also reviews all requests to distribute surveys to WUSM medical students for research purposes. A request to distribute surveys can also be submitted on the MERU website. MERU faculty will provide consultations on designing education research and scholarship projects on any topic. We also are interested in collaborating on educational research, especially if focused on the three research priority areas of diversity, equity and inclusion, assessment, and professional identity formation, and in supporting education scholarship related to the Gateway Curriculum.