Medical Education Research Unit (MERU)


Donna B. Jeffe, PhD Janice L. Hanson, PhD, EdS, MH

The Medical Education Research Unit (MERU) of the Office of Education at Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) includes a team of faculty and staff members who provide consultation and research guidance to investigators engaged in medical education research and scholarship activities, as well as assistance with the development and evaluation of educational programs and new curricula. MERU faculty and staff members collaborate with the Program Evaluation and Continuous Quality Improvement (PE/CQI) Unit.

In addition, this educational entity also offers expert guidance with new instrument development and validation, and qualitative research design, as well as opportunities for collaboration in the conduct of medical education research and scholarship at WUSM. MERU faculty members also conduct educational research on the educational progress and career paths of WUSM students and graduates.

Washington University School of Medicine is a BEME International Collaborating Centre (BICC) for the Best Evidence Medical and Health Professional Education (BEME) collaboration. MERU faculty coordinate, write, and synthesize reviews of protocols and papers that report systematic reviews of evidence for best practices in medical and health professional education.

MERU faculty members have extensive experience and expertise in educational and behavioral science, epidemiology, health professions education, program evaluation, interprofessional education, assessment in medical education, survey research, and qualitative research .

See MERU faculty areas of expertise »

Medical education database

For the past 20 years, Office of Education faculty and staff have been integrally involved in the collection and management of institutional and questionnaire data for routine evaluation of medical student education. These data may be used for program evaluation and for research and scholarship purposes. These data may be used for research/scholarship only after review and approval of MERU faculty and only with Institutional Review Board approval at Washington University Medical Center. Only de-identified data will be shared with investigators for research/scholarship or evaluation purposes.

MERU faculty members have been instrumental in developing a number of questionnaires used to survey our students during medical school and after graduation, as well as questionnaires to survey residents, fellows, and faculty at the Washington University Medical Center. They have built a comprehensive, longitudinal medical education database with data collected from and about all WUSM medical students and graduates. If you are planning a study for which you might want to use the medical education database, please request a consultation with MERU faculty.

This database, maintained by the Office of Education, has been used by MERU faculty in institutional and multi-institutional research projects with colleagues at other Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)-member medical schools, resulting in many scholarly publications as well as national and international presentations.

Consulting and collaboration

In addition to conducting educational research and scholarship, MERU faculty members serve as a resource to the WUSM community, providing consultation and collaboration opportunities in the following areas:

  • Medical education research: Provides guidance with quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods study design, questionnaire development and validation (e.g., to measure knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors), data collection, entry and management, access to and merging of large databases, and consultation on appropriate venues for dissemination of education scholarship.
  • Evaluation: Consults on development, implementation, and evaluation of educational programs. This includes qualitative research planning for data collection and analysis, development and validation of new questionnaires, and training in the conduct of educational and program evaluation methods and procedures.
  • Medical education curriculum development: Provides guidance with curriculum design, implementation, and evaluation of medical school and graduate medical education (GME) curricula.
  • Medical education grants: Provides guidance for writing grants for internal and external funding.

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MERU faculty and areas of expertise

Donna B. Jeffe, PhD, MERU Director
314–286–1914 |
Campus Box 8005

Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medical Sciences
Director, Medical Education Research Unit (MERU), Office of Education
Director, Health Behavior, Communication and Outreach Core, an affiliated resource of the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences (ICTS) and the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine

View Dr. Jeffe’s Bio

For more than 25 years, Dr. Jeffe has been a principal investigator (PI) or co-investigator of federally funded medical-educational outcomes and program evaluation studies as well as clinical and behavioral studies. With a PhD in Education, Dr. Jeffe has expertise in survey-research design and questionnaire development, validation, and psychometrics, qualitative and quantitative research design and data analysis, and educational/program evaluation. She has an active educational-outcomes research program and is PI of a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded national cohort study (R01 GM085350) focusing on the recruitment, retention and promotion of women and underrepresented minorities in biomedical-research and academic-medicine careers. This study has been continuously funded since 2008.

Dr. Jeffe was the founding director of MERU, established in 2016. She has extensive experience designing and conducting clinical and educational epidemiological research, for which she has linked, managed, and analyzed data from multiple, large, national and population-based databases. She has led the evaluations of national training programs funded by NIH and other federal agencies, including the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s mentored-research PRIDE programs for underrepresented minority junior faculty (2010-2018) and the federally funded National Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellows’ Conferences (2005-2007). Dr. Jeffe received the 2007 Thomas Hale Ham Award for New Investigators by the Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Education Affairs. She currently serves as Chair of the Siteman Cancer Center’s Breast Cancer Community Partnership, a collaborative effort among individuals and community organizations in the St. Louis metropolitan area in Missouri and Illinois and Siteman’s Program to Eliminate Cancer Disparities (PECaD).

View Select Publications

Janice L. Hanson, PhD, EdS, MH, MERU Director
314–273–1955 |
Campus Box 8214

Professor of Medicine, Division of Medical Education
Director of Medical Education Research Unit (MERU), Office of Education
Director of Education Scholarship Development, Office of Education

View Dr. Hanson’s Bio

Dr. Hanson completed her PhD in Education at the University of Michigan in 1984. After teaching and doing research in Special Education at the George Washington University with funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Dr. Hanson began her role as Director of Research and Evaluation at the Institute for Family-Centered Care, where she developed a group of parent-advisors to the Department of Defense system of services for individuals with special needs and their families. In 1999, Dr. Hanson joined the faculty at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. With funding from the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation and the Health Resources Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Hanson and Col. Virginia Randall developed a group of patient- and family-advisors to the medical school curriculum. Together they developed and taught activities on patient- and family-centered care across the four-year medical school curriculum.

Dr. Hanson joined the faculty of the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine in 2011, and subsequently joined the faculty of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis in 2019. She is Professor Emerita of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the Uniformed Services University. At the national level, Dr. Hanson has served on the board of the American Academy on Physician and Patient (now the Academy on Communication in Healthcare), as the co-chair of the Research and Scholarship Task Force for the Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics, as co-chair of the Qualitative Research Special Interest Group for the Academic Pediatric Association (APA), and as co-director of the Research Scholars Program of the APA. She has developed and led many workshops and symposia at national and international meetings, including many sessions on assessment in health professional education. Dr. Hanson’s areas of expertise include patient- and family-centered care, patient/physician communication, curriculum development, learner assessment and evaluation in health professional education, humanities in medicine, research and scholarship in education, and qualitative research methods.

View Select Publications

  1. Hanson JL, Balmer DF, Giardino AP. Qualitative research methods for medical educators. Academic Pediatrics. 2011;11(5):375-86.
  2. Hanson JL, Rosenberg AA, Lane JL. Narrative descriptions should replace grades and numerical ratings for clinical performance in medical education in the United States. Frontiers in Psychology. 2013;4:668.
  3. Lane JL, Soep JB, Hanson JL. Narrative Derived From Medical Student Reflection in Action: Lessons Learned and Implications for Assessment. Academic Pediatrics. 2018;18(3):354-6.
  4. Tewksbury LR, Carter C, Konopasek L, Sanguino SM, Hanson JL. Evaluation of a National Pediatric Subinternship Curriculum Implemented Through Individual Learning Plans. Academic Pediatrics. 2018;18(2):208-13.
  5. Paul CR, Ryan MS, Beck Dallaghan GL, Jirasevijinda T, Quigley PD, Hanson JL, Khidir AM, Petershack J, Jackson J, Tewksbury L, Rocha MEM. Collecting validity evidence: a hands-on workshop for medical education assessment instruments. MedEdPORTAL. 2019;15:10817.

Eva Aagaard, MD
314–362–7800 |
Campus Box 8073

Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb Professor of Medical Education
Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine
Senior Associate Dean for Education

View Dean Aagaard’s Bio

Dr. Eva Aagaard is Senior Associate Dean for Education and Professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM). In this role she provides oversight and direction to the educational programs of the School of Medicine including undergraduate, graduate and continuing medical education, as well as allied health and combined degree programs. Prior to moving to WUSM, she served in roles that include Assistant Program Director, Course and Clerkship Director, Vice Chair for Education, Associate Dean for Educational Strategy, Founder and Director of the Academy of Medical Educators, and Director of the Center for Advancing Professional Excellence. As a result, she has developed extensive experience in faculty development, curriculum development and mapping, program evaluation, and medical education research.

In recent years, Dr. Aagaard has been particularly engaged in learner assessment and remediation. Nationally, she serves as a member of the Internal Medicine Board of the American Board of Internal Medicine where she serves on appeals panels for practicing physicians facing loss of certification. She serves on both item writing and test development committees for the National Board of Medical Examiners. She served as a core member of the Milestones in Internal Medicine development and writing committees and is currently participating in the Milestones 2.0 process.  Dr. Aagaard is passionate about mentoring and has served as a project and career mentor to over 100 faculty locally, nationally and internationally over the course of her career.

View Select Publications

  1. Green M, Aagaard E, Cavergezie KJ, Chick DA, Holmboe E, Kane G, Smith CD, Iobst W. Charting the Road to Competence: Developmental Milestones for Internal Medicine Residency Training. Journal of Graduate Medical Education. 2009;1(1):5–20.
  2. Stickrath C, Aagaard EM, Anderson M. MiPLAN: A Learner-Centered Model for Bedside Teaching in the Modern Era. Academic Medicine. 2013;88(3):322–327.
  3. Stickrath C, Noble M, Prochaska A, Anderson M, Griffiths M, Manheim J, Sillau S, Aagaard EM. Attending Rounds in the Current Era: What Is and Is Not Happening. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2013;173(12):1084–1089.
  4. Guerrasio J, Garrity M, Aagaard EM. Learner Deficits and Academic Outcomes of Medical Students, Residents, Fellows, and Attending Physicians Referred to a Remediation Program, 2006-2012. Academic Medicine. 2014;89(2):352–358.
  5. Corral J, Guiton G, Aagaard EM. The Impact of an Academy of Medical Educators on the Culture of an American Health Sciences Campus. Academic Medicine. 2017;92(8):1145–1150.

Mary E. Klingensmith, MD, FACS
Campus Box 8214

Mary Culver Distinguished Professor and Vice Chair for Education in Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
Founding Director, Academy of Educators

View Dr. Klingensmith’s Bio

Mary E. Klingensmith, MD is the Mary Culver Distinguished Professor and Vice Chair for Education in Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where she has been on faculty since 2000. Dr. Klingensmith was Residency Training Program Director in General Surgery at WashU from 2001–2012. She serves as Associate Director for the School of Medicine Simulation Center, and has been a Loeb Teaching Fellow at the medical school for four years. She is the founding director of the medical school’s Academy of Educators.

Dr. Klingensmith’s clinical practice is in general surgery at Barnes Hospital and the John Cochran VA Hospital. Her research interests are in surgical education, including curricular reform, simulation curricula, surgical ethics, and the impact of regulations on student, resident and faculty perceptions of the field of surgery. Dr. Klingensmith served as a director for the American Board of Surgery (2011–2018, Board Chair 2017-18) and of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery (2012–15). Additionally, she is Chair of the Advisory Council for SCORE (Surgical Council on Resident Education), and oversees content for the web portal as President of SCORE, Inc. Dr. Klingensmith is recipient of the 2005 ASE Outstanding Teacher Award and 2012 ACGME Courage to Teach Award. She is past President of the Association for Surgical Education.

View Select Publications

  1. Klingensmith ME, Cogbill TH, Luchette, F, Biester, T, Samonte, K, Jones A, Malangoni, MA. Factors Influencing the Decision of Surgery Residency Graduates to Pursue General Surgery Practice Versus Fellowship. Annals of Surgery. 2015;262:449–455.
  2. Klingensmith ME. The Future of General Surgery Residency Education. JAMA Surgery. 2016;151(3):207–208.
  3. Klingensmith ME, Potts JR, Merrill WH, Eberlein TJ, Rhodes RS, Ashley SW, Valentine RJ, Hunter JG, Stain SC. Surgical Training and the Early Specialization Program: Analysis of a National Program. J American College of Surgeons. 2016;222(4):416–418.
  4. Cullinan DR, Wise PE, Delman KA, Potts JR, Awad MM, Eberlein TJ, Klingensmith ME. Interim Analysis of a Prospective Multi-Institutional Study of Surgery Resident Experience with Flexibility in Surgical Training. Journal of the American College of Surgeons. 2018;226: 425–431.
  5. Brasel KJ, Klingensmith ME, Englander R, Grambau M, Buyske J, Sarosi G, Minter R. Entrustable Professional Activities in General Surgery: Development and Implementation. Journal of Surgical Education. 2019;76(5):1174–1186.

Maria Pérez, MA
314–286–1917 |

MERU Coordinator

View Ms. Pérez’s Bio

Maria is a specialized research professional responsible for the overall coordination, management, and implementation of behavioral research projects since 2004. She has been the project manager for two studies funded by the National Cancer Institute, including an observational cohort study of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients and controls without a history of breast cancer as well as a randomized clinical trial of a culturally tailored, interactive cancer-communications intervention for newly diagnosed African American breast cancer patients.

Maria currently serves as project manager of a study funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to identify interventions that can increase the diversity of physician-scientists in the biomedical-research workforce (R01 GM085350; PI: DB Jeffe) in addition to serving as Manager of the Health Behavior, Communication and Outreach Core since 2012. The Core provides services in behavioral science, epidemiology, health education and communication, and program evaluation as well as for instrument development (e.g., educational, psychological, and quality-of-life assessments), geocoding and spatial statistics. She also currently manages a study to further assess issues of racial/ethnic and gender bias in clerkship grading funded by the Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Education Affairs. Maria also is a member of the Program Evaluation and Continuous Quality Improvement Unit in the Office of Education, providing data management and analysis on a variety of special projects for the advancement of educational programs at Washington University School of Medicine.

View Select Publications

  1. Colson ER, Pérez M, Blaylock L, Jeffe DB, Lawrence SJ, Wilson SA, Aagaard EM. Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis Case Study: A Process for Understanding and Addressing Bias in Clerkship Grading. Academic Medicine. 2020 Dec; 95(12S Addressing Harmful Bias and Eliminating Discrimination in Health Professions Learning Environments):S131-S135.
  2. Hanson JL, Pérez M, Mason HRC, Aagaard EM, Jeffe DB, Teherani A, Colson ER. Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Clerkship Grading: Perspectives of Students and Teachers. Academic Medicine. 2022 Aug 9. Epub ahead of print.

Yaheng Lu, PhD, MS

Senior Statistical Data Analyst

View Ms. Lu’s Bio

Yaheng Lu is the Senior Statistical Data Analyst. She is primarily responsible for the collection, organization, and management of quantitative and qualitative data. Yaheng is about to complete her PhD training in Educational Psychology and Research Methodology (Purdue University). She had worked as a project manager and research assistant for a large scale study (PI: Dr. Helen Patrick), funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Her work is focused on examining student outcomes and instructor effects across content areas by conducting interviews, observations, and surveys.

Yaheng is currently assisting Dr. Janice Hanson and Dr. Donna Jeffe in evaluating MERU and scholarship development at Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM). She collects data and assists in preparing the research protocol. In addition, Yaheng helps manage the Small Grants Program, which grants funding for education research and scholarship projects that are focused on teaching and learning at WUSM.

Yaheng is also in a supportive role for research projects in medical education. She is currently assisting a study to examine students’ reflections and to identify threshold concepts in professional identity development. This project is closely related to anti-bias and community engagement training, which are key components of the newly launched Gateway Curriculum. In addition, Yaheng is a member of the Program Evaluation and Continuous Quality Improvement (PECQI) Unit in the Office of Education. She collaborates with colleagues on the creation, implementation, and management of survey instruments that align with program evaluation needs. Yaheng performs statistical analyses and prepares presentations for both quantitative and qualitative data on various projects for the evaluation and advancement of medical education at WUSM.