Whelan, Zhang take new roles at School of Medicine

Alison J. Whelan, M.D., has been named senior associate dean for education, and Yi Zhang, J.D., has been named assistant dean for clinical trials. Both appointments were effective July 1.

Creation of Whelan’s position emanates from the school’s Plan for Excellence, the 10-year strategic plan recently completed and endorsed by the Executive Faculty, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton and the Board of Trustees, said Larry J. Shapiro, M.D., executive vice chancellor and dean of the School of Medicine.


In the new role, Whelan will organize teams and working groups to better use core resources, develop collaboration across educational programs, explore opportunities for cross-disciplinary curricula and programs, identify and promulgate best practices and assess the prospects for and necessary characteristics of new degree programs. In addition, she will develop an Office of International Medical Education.

Whelan has been associate dean for medical student education since 1997 and is a professor of medicine and of pediatrics. She led the school through the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) reaccreditation process and has been a member of several LCME site visit teams, is an active member of the National Board of Medical Examiners, currently serving as a member-at-large of its governing board. She led the planning and development efforts for the Farrell Learning and Teaching Center, was the coordinator of the process that created and implemented the Practice of Medicine curriculum and played a key role in launching the Standardized Patient Program.

As assistant dean for clinical trials, Zhang will plan, direct and oversee clinical trials activities at the medical school. She will manage the negotiation of industry-sponsored clinical trial contracts and ensure compliance with regulations, policies and laws, as well as coordinate federal clinical trials with the Grants and Contracts Office and the Research Office. Zhang also will lead the administrative core for the Center for Applied Research Sciences, working under its director, Samuel Klein, M.D., the William H. Danforth Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Science.


Zhang rejoined the School of Medicine from Chicago, where she was a health law attorney at McDermott, Will and Emery LLP. Previously, Zhang was director of operations and development for the Center for Clinical Studies at the medical school. She also served as director of regulatory support and compliance and of clinical trial contracts for the Center for Clinical Studies and earlier served as director of cardiac surgical research and as cardiothoracic surgery research nurse coordinator at the School of Medicine.

She also was a registered nurse at Saint Louis University Hospital and Compton Heights Hospital in cardiothoracic surgery intensive care.

Zhang earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a law degree from Saint Louis University School of Law. She previously was an attorney at Husch & Eppenberger LLC in St. Louis.