Med school dean honored with National Medical Fellowships’ Legacy Award

Dr. Bonita Stanton

NUTLEY, NJ — Dr. Bonita Stanton, the founding dean of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine in Nutley, has received the National Medical Fellowships’ Legacy Award.

Stanton was honored for helping to create “a school that recognizes inequity in health outcomes and that is demonstrating to students that health care disparities are born of structural and systemic racism,” according to the NMF. NMF holds the Champions of Health Awards to “honor those individuals who have made a lasting impact on health care and diversity in health care as well as outstanding corporate leaders whose role and influence drives positive change in the business community and the communities they serve.”

The dean received the award at the 2021 Virtual Champions of Health Awards ceremony, held in New York on Sept. 28.

“Dean Bonita Stanton is an exemplary leader for the progressive mission of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine,” said Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “She is helping to write the future in 21st-century medicine.”

Stanton, who has helmed the school since its inception in 2016, has received numerous honors as a thought leader and influential educator and physician. She said she sees it as a credit to the entire school.

“This award is validation of what is being accomplished at our school,” Stanton said. “Medical education in the United States needs to be better in treating all people across society with equal resources and attention. We are doing our very best to be part of the positive change to make a brighter future in medicine.”

The school’s curriculum fosters teamwork and a humanistic focus on community wellness. A vital piece of this mission is the “Human Dimension,” a three-year program integrating the biomedical, behavioral, social and population sciences and placed in the context of the patient and communities, which touches underserved cities across New Jersey.

Stanton, a pediatrician and infectious disease expert by training, received her medical degree from the Yale University School of Medicine. She earned distinctions as a health investigator living and working in the poorest parts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, studying diarrheal diseases. Research in global HIV prevention earned her accolades in subsequent years. Before coming to the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, she served as chairperson of the Department of Pediatrics and ultimately as vice dean for research at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich.

Stanton is also a researcher, having been continuously funded as a principal investigator on one or more grants from the National Institutes of Health since 1990. She has also authored more than 325 peer-reviewed papers, and has served as editor of several textbooks, including the “Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics.” 

NMF is the only national organization solely dedicated to providing scholarships and support to medical and health professions students from groups underrepresented in health care. For the past 75 years, NMF has identified and supported more than 32,000 students by giving more than $45 million in scholarships.