Featured People Profile

Getting to know Neurology’s new vice chair for education, Doug Larsen

Doug Larsen

Education has been top-of-mind for Doug Larsen, MD, MEd, since the very beginning of his career. His medical school application focused on the physician as an educator. And pediatric neurology is essentially embedded in his DNA.

“You could say I was exposed since birth!” Larsen, a professor of neurology & pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis said referring. “My father is an amazing physician and educator. I was always interested in what he was doing. However, when I went to medical school, I didn’t just want to ‘do what my dad did.’”

He set out seeking a different path at the University of Utah School of Medicine but ended up going into pediatric neurology, anyway, after discovering a passion for neurology/neuroscience and a love of working with children and their families. It was a natural fit.

“I, finally, decided to stop fighting my genetics and become a pediatric neurologist like my father,” Larsen said.

He did his two years of pediatrics residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and came to Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital for his pediatric neurology training in 2005. Throughout his education, he considered what was effective about the program. He joined the faculty in the Department of Neurology at Washington University after completing his residency in 2008 and received his Master’s degree in Education from the University of Cincinnati in 2010.

“That focus on education has continued through my career. I have dedicated my academic work to education research,” Larsen said. “My work has focused on better understanding learning and how systems can be designed to optimize learning.”

In his role as vice chair for education for the Department of Neurology, Larsen’s goal is to “build an educational environment where faculty, staff, and trainees feel inspired on a daily basis by the work that they are doing.” He plans to create processes where faculty, fellows, residents and staff receive frequent feedback and recognition for their work.

“I want to thank my predecessor, Robert Bucelli, MD, PhD, who is an outstanding educator and leader,” Larsen said. “He has done so much and worked so hard to improve the lives of residents and faculty. Much of my work will be to build on what he has started.”

Outside of work, Larsen loves hiking, cycling and photography. He, Molly (wife) and their five children love to visit national parks, “especially those in the West.”

Get to know Larsen a little more

  1. What is your favorite thing about WashU? 
    I often tell people that Wash U is a place where your creativity can blossom. I have seen so many examples where individuals have dreamt up new ways to develop their career as a faculty member and have had the support and space to do that.
  2. Favorite thing about St. Louis? 
    I love the sense of history in St. Louis. St. Louis is a blending place both in geographic terms, but also as a blending place of ideas and cultures. I think that is a good metaphor for what we can accomplish as a department in our mission as well.