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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, activists and other innovative professionals working at the forefront of diverse fields and endeavors.

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.

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.

In St. Louis, the excitement and amenities of a big city are readily available, but living here is also easy and affordable.

Here is St. Louis, a video by Grain Inc. on Vimeo.

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.

Aerial of view of Forest Park, with views of trees, waterways, and the downtown skyline in the distance
The medical campus borders Forest Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country. Forest Park is home to running and biking trails, two golf courses, boat and SUP rentals, soccer fields, ball diamonds and festivals – as well as the city’s art museum, zoo, science center and other free attractions. Photo: Steve Jett

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.

A city for foodies

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 smaller towns. In fact, a 2019 assessment ranked St. Louis among the top U.S. cities where people live the most balanced lifestyles.

Affordable city life

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.

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

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.

Exploring Forest Park, the #1 city park in the US

The medical campus also borders Forest Park, where miles of multi-use trails wind around some of the city’s most popular destinations. Frequently topping lists as one of the nation’s favorite city parks, 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, to the university’s Danforth Campus, or to the airport is a quick ride away. The university also offers free membership in a Car Share program, and the city’s scooter share gives you even more ways to get around town.

Easy commuting

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.

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

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 InstitutionPopular 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.

Activities in the neighboring Cortex district include hackathons, tech conferences, craft markets and even free yoga. See the calendar »

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.

Rooting out systemic racism

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.

New York Times:
In 7 Great Cities, 7 Great Walks »

St. Louis: A New African American Trail: “The St. Louis Brickline is as much a greenway as a public reckoning of the city’s racist history — and its impact on Black residents today.”

With a strong commitment to anti-racism, the medical school is facing these disparities head-on. The school is taking meaningful action to increase diversity on campus and in health 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.

Study volunteer Stephanie Griffin is seated in an exam room as Dr. Lenise Cummings-Vaughn, runs a neurological test for a study. Both women are Black.Matt Miller
The Knight Alzheimer Disease Research Center at Washington University School of Medicine 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. The center has become a national model for boosting diversity in clinical trials and building equity in treatment. “If you only study Alzheimer’s in white people, you only learn about Alzheimer’s in white people,” says John C. Morris, MD, a neurologist and director of the Knight Center. In this photo, Lenise Cummings-Vaughn, MD, assesses study volunteer Stephanie Griffin.

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.

Writing health equity and social justice into the curriculum

When Eva Aagaard, MD, joined the School of Medicine as senior associate dean for education, her first charge was to revamp the medical curriculum.

“By revising the curriculum to intentionally address social and economic barriers to good health,” Aagaard said, “we can build upon existing community and university partnerships, and develop new ones — all with the goal of improving the health of the St. Louis region and beyond.

“We can lead changes that need to happen here and nationwide. St. Louis is ready. Washington University is ready. I’m ready.”

The new curriculum — called the Gateway Curriculum — launched at the start of the 2020-21 academic year.

Washington University School of Medicine is 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.