Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Our Commitment

The Division of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine at Stanford unequivocally stands for racial justice and acknowledges structural/societal barriers that have historically disadvantaged people of color in academia and medicine. We define underrepresented in medicine (URM) broadly to include race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, neurodivergence, and abilities. Our aim is to recruit culturally competent and conscientious providers who perpetuate our guiding principles of inclusion and disparities reduction.

Underrepresented in Medicine Q&A

Clinical Professor Sonia Bonifacio, MD, speaks about her experiences as an underrepresented minority in academic medicine. 

Dr. Melissa Scala, Fellowship Program Director

As a Fellowship Program Director, I have overseen the launch of initiatives to remove unconscious bias and improve recruitment of underrepresented minorities in our program. As a researcher, my primary research focus is in family-centered developmental care. I lead a large multidisciplinary group focused on reducing disparities in how parents of different demographics are able to interact with their infants in the NICU. Our ongoing research involves evaluating and removing barriers to communication and support of families with limited English proficiency. Additionally, I am a member of the California Health Equity task force with the California Perinatal Quality Care Collaborative (CPQCC).

Dr. Gary Shaw, Associate Fellowship Program Director

I have been privileged to mentor and guide the research trajectory of numerous trainees at many academic levels from diverse backgrounds.  I am committed to ensuring that this training program includes a wide range of individual experiences, finds opportunities for each individual to succeed, and highly values a learning environment that celebrates a range of life experiences.

Dr. Valerie Chock, Associate Fellowship Program Director

I am privileged to be a part of the growth of DEI initiatives at Stanford. I have mentored students from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds with both clinical and research experiences in neonatal medicine, and have been thrilled with their successful paths into medicine.  I am committed to facilitating opportunities for URM trainees to build and sustain a pipeline of future scientific investigators.

Fellowship Anti-Bias / DEI Recruitment Plan

The Stanford Commission for Justice and Equity announced a “30% by 2030” goal to increase URM representation in the School of Medicine to 30% across all levels. We hope to meet and/or exceed this target by implementing the following measures. 

In order to make the fellowship application process more just and inclusive, and to encourage a diverse applicant pool, we will:

  • Blind information irrelevant to evaluation
    • Look beyond the standardized examination to assess clinical competency (optional video case or research synopsis, situational judgement tests/case studies)
    • Decrease weight of letters of recommendation and class rankings in MSPE, as there is considerable evidence for gender and racial biases in letters of recommendation and performance evaluations in medical school and residency
  • Include option to provide diversity statement in ERAS application
  • Strongly consider candidates’ ability to contribute to inclusive community through allyship, advocacy, lived experience, and empathy
  • Consider candidates' experience with COVID-19 to assess the resilience and character of individuals who have had to overcome barriers and have demonstrated a deeper sense of community through adversity
  • Require unconscious bias training for all reviewers/interviewers
  • Thoughtfully diversify perspectives (i.e. gender, seniority, background) in review committee

Long-term goals as a program


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