AAMC awards posthumous honor to med school’s inaugural dean

Dr. Bonita Stanton

NUTLEY, NJ — Dr. Bonita F. Stanton, the late dean of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine in Nutley, was honored posthumously with a special award for her decades in medical education.

Stanton, the founding dean of the medical school, was given the Special Recognition Award by the American Association of Medical Colleges for her long and illustrious career. The award was bestowed at the AAMC’s annual awards event, held virtually on Oct. 26.

Stanton died unexpectedly in January 2022 of a sudden illness, but not before seeing the medical school’s inaugural class graduate the previous June. 

“How fortunate we were to have such a visionary educator and physician to start our medical school journey,” Hackensack Meridian Health CEO Robert C. Garrett said. “Bonnie was one of a kind and we miss her every day.”

“Bonnie was a terrific leader who created this magnificent school based on her experiences in academics, and among underserved communities across the globe,” said Dr. Jeffrey Boscamp, the interim dean of the school and a professor of pediatrics. “Her legacy lives on and thrives in what we do everyday.” 

Stanton was a pediatrician who saved lives in the developing world before returning to the United States as a medical educator at leading institutions and served as the founding dean of Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine in New Jersey. She was 70 at the time of her death.

Stanton was known for her pioneering work in impoverished corners of the globe, where her research and care improved and saved countless lives. A prolific author and researcher, Stanton taught for decades in leading medical schools across the country and helped create the innovative curriculum at one of the nation’s newest medical institutions, Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine in Nutley.

Stanton launched her career in a disease-ridden and disadvantaged part of the world. For five years, Stanton lived in Dhaka, Bangladesh, conducting research and treating the poor. Her groundbreaking research addressed the prevention and treatment of diarrheal diseases in the urban slums of the city, where drinking clean water, as well as maintaining a healthy life, was a near impossibility. 

She also made major research contributions toward global HIV prevention and was continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health as a principal investigator from 1991 to 2016. She authored more than 350 peer-reviewed manuscripts and served as an editor of several textbooks. She was the consulting editor for “Pediatric Clinics of North America” and was a member of the editorial board of Clinical Keys. She served on countless study sections for the NIH and Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, and served on numerous boards, task forces and professional organizations.