Medical Education Research Unit (MERU)

Director: Donna B. Jeffe, PhD


The Medical Education Research Unit (MERU) of the Office of Education at Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) is a team of faculty and staff members who provide consultation and research guidance to investigators engaged in medical education outcomes research, as well as assistance with the development and evaluation of educational programs and new curricula.

In addition, this educational entity offers expert guidance with new instrument development and validation, provides opportunities for collaboration in the conduct of medical education research at WUSM, and conducts educational research on the educational progress and career paths of WUSM students and graduates.

MERU faculty members have extensive experience and expertise in educational and behavioral science, epidemiology, and health education and program evaluation research.

See MERU members and areas of expertise »

Medical education database

For the past 15 years, MERU 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 research purposes only after review and approval of MERU faculty and only with Institutional Review Board approval at Washington University Medical Center.  Only completely de-identified data may be used for research 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.

This database, which is maintained by the Office of Education, is 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, 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 study design, instrument development, data collection, entry and management, access to and merging of large databases, and consultation on appropriate venues for dissemination of education scholarship.
  • Evaluation research: Design, implementation, and evaluation of educational programs. This includes qualitative research planning for data collection and analysis, development and validation of new instruments (e.g., for measuring knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors), and training in the conduct of educational and program evaluation research methods and procedures.
  • Medical education curriculum development: Provides guidance with curriculum design, implementation, and evaluation of medical school and graduate medical education (GME) curricula.

Request a consultation >>

MERU members and areas of expertise

Donna B. Jeffe, PhD, MERU Director
314-286-1914 | jeffedonnab@wustl.edu
Campus Box 8005

Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medical Sciences
Director of Medical Education Research Unit (MERU), Office of Education
Director of Health Behavior, Communication and Outreach Core, Washington University School of Medicine, Siteman Cancer Center

For more than 20 years, Dr. Jeffe has been a principal investigator or co-investigator of several medical-educational outcomes and program evaluation studies as well as clinical and behavioral studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Health Resources and Services Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Central Group on Educational Affairs (CGEA), and various private foundations and professional societies.

With a PhD in Education, Dr. Jeffe has expertise in survey and questionnaire design, validation, and psychometrics, qualitative and quantitative research design, and educational/program evaluation. She has an active educational-outcomes research program, including institutional research (under the auspices of the Office of Education) and national extramural research (with joint PI, Dr. Dorothy Andriole, funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences) focusing on the recruitment, retention and promotion of women and underrepresented minorities in science and biomedical research careers.

Dr. Jeffe has extensive experience designing and conducting NIH-funded epidemiological research, for which she has managed, linked, and analyzed data from multiple large databases. These studies have included longitudinal data for multi-institutional medical education outcomes studies and for national cohorts of medical-school applicants, matriculants, and graduates obtained from several annual surveys administered by the AAMC and the American Medical Association. She also leads the outcomes evaluation of national training programs that are funded by NIH: the diversity-focused National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s PRIDE programs for junior faculty, and, as joint PI (with Dr. Treva Rice), the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Diversity Action Plan programs, T32 programs, and individual awardees of mentored F and K awards. Dr. Jeffe received the AAMC Group on Education Affairs (GEA) Thomas Hale Ham Award for new investigators in 2007.


Eva Aagaard, MD
314-362-7800 | aagaarde@wustl.edu
Campus Box 8073

Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine
Senior Associate Dean for Education

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.


Carolyn Dufault, PhD
314-362-3736 | cdufault@wustl.edu
Campus Box 8214

Instructor of Medicine, Department of Medicine
Assistant Dean for Education, Office of Education

With a PhD in Experimental Psychology, Dr. Dufault’s research and teaching over the past decade have focused on designing educational activities that support effective learning. She has presented nationally on the importance of applying findings from cognitive science to improve teaching, learning and curriculum design.

Prior to joining the Dean’s office at WUSM in 2013, Dr. Dufault served as the Assistant Director of Evaluative Studies at Washington University’s Teaching Center. During this time, she co-developed and co-taught (with Gina Frey, PhD, Executive Director of the Teaching Center) a graduate-level course, Teaching-as-Research. This course introduced future faculty to the principles and practical aspects of taking a scholarly approach to teaching, with an emphasis on rigorous investigation of the effects of curriculum innovations.

At WUSM, she has consulted on numerous educational research projects, providing tailored support and assistance with study design, IRB protocol development, project implementation, data collection and analysis, and dissemination of findings. She was a co-investigator on a research project funded by the Team-Based Learning Collaborative, evaluating new approaches to measuring professionalism among pre-clinical medical students.

Dr. Dufault represents WUSM as an alternate member of the Board of Directors of the Best Evidence in Medical Evidence (BEME) Collaborative, an international organization that advocates for the use of evidence-informed teaching and curriculum design practices at health professional schools and programs around the world.


Leslie Blaylock, MEd, MERU Coordinator
314-362-5433 | llblaylock@wustl.edu