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About St. Louis

A hub for international research and a destination for patients seeking exceptional care, St. Louis is the ideal place to train and excel in health, medicine and research.

The city is home to more than labs and hospitals, though. St. Louis attracts artists, engineers, entrepreneurs and other innovative professionals working at the forefront of diverse fields and endeavors.

Because St. Louis tends to keep a low profile, newcomers are often surprised by its abundance of character, culture and entertainment. In fact, the city earns accolades from techies, foodies, music-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts nationwide.

The Gateway Arch is an engineering feat and stunning sight. Yet when it comes to St. Louis attractions, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Something for everyone

St. Louis is a patchwork of eclectic and affordable neighborhoods with world-class arts and attractions. Residents enjoy an outstanding culinary scene, hip nightlife, beloved sports teams, miles of green space, and a gleaming national park in the heart of downtown. The city’s world-class museums, gardens and arts centers showcase award-winning performances and exhibitions. Outside of town, Missouri’s rambling trails and cool streams offer endless adventures in hiking, biking, climbing and kayaking.

The medical campus borders Forest Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country. Forest Park is home to running and biking trails, golf courses, ball diamonds and boat rentals, as well as the city’s art museum, zoo, science center and other free attractions.

Food for thought

St. Louis is home to countless restaurants, coffee shops, breweries and bakeries that delight food-lovers of all palates. A rotating cast of food trucks rolls through campus on a daily basis, and dozens of dining options within a mile of campus offer fare ranging from poké bowls and street tacos to gourmet donuts and French pastries. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or full service, your options are covered.

Getting hungry? MD students weigh in on where to eat »

New residents and natives alike praise St. Louis for providing the career and cultural opportunities of a big city with the convenience and low cost of living often found in much smaller towns.

Not far from the medical campus, the Grand Center Arts District is home to many cultural events and venues.

Get to know St. Louis

St. Louis’s cultural institutions, affordability and endless options for recreation and entertainment regularly earn the region national recognition. These guides will help you decide where to start if you want to get to know our city.

At home in the heart of it all

St. Louis consistently ranks among the most affordable cities in the U.S., and the city’s dozens of neighborhoods and surrounding suburbs – each with their own perks and personalities – invite you to find the perfect place to call home.

The neighborhoods closest to the medical campus offer trendy establishments, historic charm and a quick commute. The campus is located in the city’s Central West End, an area brimming with dining and entertainment options that cater to the area’s young professionals. A short walk away, the Grove district is home to breweries, music venues, pizza joints, street fairs, international eateries and more.

The medical campus also borders Forest Park, where miles of multi-use trails wind around some of the city’s most popular destinations. Named USA Today’s Best City Park in 2016, Forest Park is home to the city’s art museum, zoo, science center and other free attractions, offering an expansive area to explore recreational and cultural interests – from paddleboard yoga to meeting polar bears face-to-face.

“I love the city’s variety in neighborhoods with their unique character, style and cuisine,” says Ellen Lockhart, MD, professor and vice chair of the Department of Anesthesiology. “I also enjoy being able to take advantage of events and activities, both in and out of the city, without excessive driving or traffic.”

St. Louis is also easy to get around. The medical campus is surrounded by walkable, bike-friendly neighborhoods. Students and employees get free Metro passes, good for the region’s bus and light rail systems. The MetroLink train makes a stop in the heart of the medical campus, so a trip downtown or to the airport is a quick ride away. The university also offers free membership in a Car Share program, and the city’s bike and scooter share networks give you even more ways to get around town.

A hub of health and biotech innovation

St. Louis has an impressive bioscience history, yet it’s the city’s future as the home of a thriving science and technology community that is generating excitement and interest from students and professionals in medical research and practice. In fact, St. Louis consistently earns a top spot on lists ranking America’s best cities for innovation, tech and startups (see what Business Insider, the Brookings InstitutePopular Mechanics and Forbes have to say).

More than 1,000 plant and life science companies already flourish in St. Louis, which ranks second in the nation for jobs in the biotech, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and advanced materials industries. Moving forward, Washington University School of Medicine is at the center of growth in the city, both literally and figuratively.

The Cortex district serves as a national model for driving innovation in biomedical science and technology.

In 2002, the school joined forces with some of the region’s major academic and research institutions to found the Cortex Innovation Community, the Midwest’s premiere hub of bioscience and technology research, development and commercialization. Located adjacent to the Medical Campus, this rapidly expanding biotech district is home to dozens of startups and established companies, as well as networking events, hackathons, funding groups, fabricators and other resources.

Read about the university’s latest health innovations »

Making a real difference

In recent years, the St. Louis region has become ground zero for a nationwide social justice movement. While many people in St. Louis live comfortably in safe neighborhoods with easy access to good schools, amenities and health care, too many residents live a world away, grappling with the consequences of systemic racism and poverty.

The medical school is facing these disparities head-on, taking meaningful action to increase diversity on campus and in medical professions while making culturally competent healthcare a curricular priority. Universitywide, diversity initiatives and programs aim to correct systemic disparities, while dialogue series and community partnerships expand the conversation beyond campus and promote active engagement.

Many medical students volunteer at the Saturday Neighborhood Health Clinic, a free student-run clinic in an underserved neighborhood. The experience strengthens students’ skills in patient care and cultural competence and provides a vital service for patients in need.

It’s little surprise that a socially engaged campus attracts students, investigators and practitioners in health and medicine who are passionate about addressing social and health disparities and helping others.

“We accept our unique urban enclave for all its glory and will not shy away from engaging with the St. Louis community to help eliminate the social factors that contributed to the crisis in Ferguson.”

Will R. Ross, MD, MPH
Associate Dean for Diversity

We are a place for people who want to change the world. Our students, faculty and trainees are active partners in the St. Louis community, working to improve the region’s public health infrastructure while developing the cultural awareness required of effective and engaged health care professionals.

Video: Incoming medical students see first-hand the communities that may shape their patients’ health and lives. Learn more about WUSM Plunge »