Our academic Consortium forms the bedrock of Aquifer, bringing together more than 200 healthcare educators across disciplines—experts from the national leadership of organizations like CDIM, COMSEP, STFM, AGS, IAMSE,  AUR/AMSER, SIDM, the Betty Ford Hazelden Foundation, and more—to collaborate, innovate, and make advances in health professions education.

For educators and healthcare providers, participation in the Consortium offers a unique cross-disciplinary peer community and an exciting opportunity for academic scholarship and advancement.

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Aquifer Consortium At Work

Leading Aquifer’s Academic Mission

The Aquifer Consortium provides strategic academic leadership to define the Aquifer pedagogy in the ever-changing field of health care education; address emerging issues; and inform course innovation. Our consortium members work collaboratively to standardize, maintain, and advance course content and educator resources, as well as build cross-disciplinary academic connection and innovation. Consortium members are key ambassadors in advancing Aquifer’s message to the larger academic community. Members conduct vital academic outreach, including driving relationships with national organizations, presenting at conferences, and conducting exploratory discussions with faculty and students.

Trusted Content from Top Educators

Over its 12-year history, Aquifer has perfected a process for creating pedagogically sound cases that support excellence in course delivery and student learning. The Aquifer Consortium, supported by the Aquifer staff, builds each course case-by-case through a streamlined process. The result is evidence-based, peer-reviewed content that educators and learners can trust.

Outstanding Content is Ongoing: The Continuous Course Improvement Process

Aquifer Consortium is continually updating and improving our cases to ensure that our educators and students have the best curricular content available. Through the Continuous Course Improvement Process, our team of dedicated educators, medical experts, and staff evaluates and updates our existing content on an ongoing basis.


Academic Council

The Academic Council formalizes Aquifer’s collaborative model across disciplines. Drawing from the contributions and expertise of its members, the Council advises on cross-disciplinary curriculum development, educational research, and technological innovations.

Sherilyn Smith, MD

Academic Director for Engagement, Integration, & Research & Ex Officio Board Member

Sherilyn Smith, MD is a Professor of Pediatrics (Pediatric Infectious Disease) at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She has been an active member of the Aquifer community since 2001, serving as a case author, member of the curriculum working group, member of the Aquifer Pediatrics integration working group, and an associate editor. Dr. Smith became the Aquifer Pediatrics Co-Editor-in-Chief in 2009 and served in that role until 2015. She was a founding member of the Colleges at the University of Washington School of Medicine, serving as the Head of the Big Sky College from 2001 to 2009. She was the Director of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Fellowship at the University of Washington from 2009 to 2013 and served as the Associate Clerkship Director there prior to becoming Co-Director of Medical Student Education in 2014.

Dr. Smith’s current and past national committee work includes: co-leader of the Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics (COMSEP) Research and Scholarship Taskforce (2003-2008), member of the COMSEP Executive Committee (2007-2010), and COMSEP President (2015-2017). She is on the Pediatric Infectious Disease sub-board for the American Board of Pediatrics (2015-2020).

Dr. Smith graduated from Duke University with a degree in Spanish Literature and received her MD from Baylor College of Medicine. She completed her pediatric training at the University of California San Diego and her Pediatric Infectious Disease Fellowship at the University of Washington. In 2000, she completed the Teaching Scholars Program at the University of Washington. Dr. Smith and her husband have one child. She enjoys reading, running, watching youth sports, and finds joy while hiking around the Pacific Northwest.

Valerie J. Lang, MD, MHPE

Academic Director for Assessment

Dr. Valerie Lang is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Hospital Medicine Division at the University of Rochester, where she was been a hospitalist since 2000. She directed the Internal Medicine Clerkship for 13 years and currently serves as Director of the Medicine Sub-Internship and the Hospital Medicine Faculty Development Program.  She is also the Senior Associate Division Chief of the Hospital Medicine Division.

Her current and past national committee work includes: Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine (CDIM) Council; CDIM President (2014-2015); Board of Directors, Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine (AAIM); and Co-Chair, High Value Care Working Group (AAIM); and the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine’s Diagnostic Error Competencies development group. Dr. Lang is a past Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Aquifer Internal Medicine course and led a multi-institutional validation study of Aquifer Internal Medicine’s novel key features examination to assess clinical decision making. Her medical education scholarship focuses on the teaching and assessment of clinical reasoning.

Dr. Lang earned her MD from SUNY Syracuse College of Medicine and completed her Internal Medicine residency at the University of Rochester. She graduated with a Masters in Health Professions Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Val and her husband, a medical oncologist, have a son in elementary school who is an avid online learner. She enjoys 4-season biking (even in the Rochester winter), gardening, and traveling.

Alec Chessman, MD

Academic Director of Curriculum

Alec Chessman, MD has been engaged in medical education since 1988. He has directed courses in all years of medical school, and has precepted residents in the inpatient and outpatient settings for over 25 years. He introduced Evidence Based Medicine into the preclinical curriculum in the early 1990’s. Through HRSA grant funding, he introduced such innovations as providing laptop computers for students on clerkship rotation at away sites during the 1990’s, prior to a required laptop requirement.

He has received several honors from his professional academic organization, the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, including STFM President’s Awards for his participation in: the Predoctoral Directors’ Development Institute (faculty development fellowship), a faculty development newsletter called Teaching Physician (newsletter) for which he served as one of the Founding Editors for over a decade, the fmCASES Project Development Group, and the STFM Family Medicine Clerkship Curriculum Task Force that defined a national set of core objectives. He was part of the teams that won STFM Innovative Program Awards: for fmCASES in 2015, and for CERA in 2016. He received South Carolina AHEC’s James G. Halford, Jr. Award for the outstanding family medicine educator of the year in 2012, and STFM’s Excellence in Education Award in 2016.

He was part of the original team that developed fmCASES, now Aquifer Family Medicine. He authored one of the cases, and served as Co-Editor-in-Chief, and then Co-Senior Director until 2016. He has served as Editor-in-Chief of Aquifer Trauma Informed Care (currently in development), a set of virtual patient cases developed under contract with the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Women’s Health. Designed for primary care practitioners, these cases seek to improve care for patients adversely affected by traumatic life events.

Stephen Scott, MD, MPH

Academic Director for Engagement

Dr. Scott first became involved with Aquifer (formerly MedU) in 2007, when he joined the fmCASES (now Aquifer Family Medicine) development group. He’s been an active member of the Aquifer Family Medicine Course Board (where he continues to serve) since the launch of the course, in addition to leading workgroups to support student and educator Aquifer users.

Dr. Stephen Scott recently became the Senior Associate Dean of Educational Affairs and Accreditation at the newly formed Texas Christian University and UNTHSC School of Medicine in Fort Worth, Texas. He served a short term as the TCU and UNTHSC Chair of the Department of Medical Education and Director for the Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship prior to earning a promotion. Previously, he served as the Associate Dean for Student Affairs at Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar. For more than 20 years, he has worked with medical students, residents, and faculty in the classroom and in clinical settings, including directing courses in patient-physician communication, clinical skills, public health, and other disciplines. Dr. Scott is the recipient of multiple grants and awards for educational leadership and innovation. He and his wife Melissa have two daughters. Steve enjoys playing the piano, the arts, reading, and exploring the world with family and friends.

Aquifer Consortium Course Boards