As we celebrate progress made, we recognize the work ahead and reaffirm our commitment to moving equity forward for everyone.

WashU Medicine’s ongoing efforts to foster inclusion and equity for all marginalized groups — within our community and beyond — have led to progress. Representation of groups historically underrepresented in medicine has steadily increased among students, faculty and staff. The new Doctor of Medicine (MD) curriculum emphasizes learning in health equity and advocacy. Several research initiatives are successfully boosting representation in clinical trials to ensure that advances in health care benefit everyone. And efforts to support health care equity in the region are ongoing.

Still, much work remains.

Desegregation of the medical campus

In April 2024, WashU Medicine and BJC HealthCare unveiled a permanent exhibit and website documenting the history of desegregation at WashU Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The history explores more than a century of perspectives of doctors, nurses, patients, students and staff, with an emphasis on the leaders who fought for desegregation and continue to fight for equity today.

The list below describes some of the ongoing initiatives and progress made in diversity, equity and inclusion at Washington University School of Medicine.

Increasing diversity in science and medicine


In 2017, the Executive Faculty Senior Leadership Committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion established expectations, accountability processes and resources to promote equity in hiring.

  • Faculty: From 2017 to 2024, representation of people underrepresented in medicine (7.6%) increased by 83%, and representation of women (42%) increased by 46%.
  • Staff: From 2017 to 2024, representation of people underrepresented in medicine (21%) increased by 67%.

Academic leadership positions

In 2017, the school of medicine had no department chairs or program heads (executive faculty) from populations underrepresented in medicine. In 2024, 21% of the executive faculty are people underrepresented in medicine.

From 2017 to 2024, the number of women in executive faculty positions increased by 133%, from 13% in FY17 to to 29% in FY24.

Medical student recruitment

Through longstanding, focused recruitment efforts — along with a new curriculum that features flexibility, individual coaching, and a special emphasis on social justice — the Doctor of Medicine (MD) program has achieved significant progress in recruiting a diverse class.

Among the entering class of 2023:

  • 31% of students are from groups underrepresented in medicine (doubled from 2016)
  • 17% are from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds
  • 7% are first-generation students

Pathway programs

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’s Academic Pathways Programs lead efforts for recruiting, retaining, and developing applicants from populations that historically have been underrepresented in medicine and the STEM workforce. The 30+ programs connect middle school, high school, college, college graduates and doctoral students with educational and scientific activities that otherwise may be inaccessible.

Notable among the pathway programs is the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience (CSMB), a St. Louis public school founded in 2013 for students with interests in science, medicine and health. In August 2023, U.S. News & World Report ranked CSMB the #2 public high school in Missouri and #150 in the nation.


Alzheimer’s research

For 20 years, the Knight Alzheimer Disease Research Center (ADRC) has worked to boost diversity in clinical trials to help ensure that medical advances from research benefit everyone. Today, 17% of ADRC study volunteers are Black, up from 3% in 1999.

RELATED: Equity for African Americans in Alzheimer’s disease
The Knight Alzheimer Disease Research Center has been working for decades to correct the failure by the mostly white research community to understand how African Americans view Alzheimer’s disease and participation in medical research.

Outlook magazine | Winter 2022-23

Community research partnerships

The Institute for Public Health’s Center for Community Health Partnership & Research fosters partnerships and research aimed at reducing health disparities.

Health care equity

Cancer care

Several initiatives address racial disparities in cancer, particularly prostate, colorectal, multiple myeloma and breast. The Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities’ (PECaD) community partnership program has reduced the diagnosis of late-stage breast cancer among Black women in the region by 40% in the past decade.

COVID care

A new clinic aims to advance long-COVID care in medically vulnerable and underserved communities in the St. Louis metro area and rural Missouri.

Prevention and vaccinations

The Institute of Public Health provides flu and COVID shots via pop-up clinics at community events, churches and community centers in underserved communities.

The Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health: St. Louis (REACH-StL) program aims to improve health, prevent chronic disease and reduce health disparities in the Black community in north St. Louis County and north St. Louis City.

Professional development for faculty and staff

Education and programming

In partnership with 60 Equity Champions from departments across campus, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion provides a multi-session Understanding Systemic Racism curriculum specifically focused on advancing racial equity in medical education, health care and biomedical science.

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion additionally provides ongoing education and programming for faculty, staff and trainees on a range of topics including equity in mentoring, how to manage bias, speaking up when discrimination occurs and centering equity in decision making.