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  • Dr. Steffany Moonaz Named 2024 Health Justice Award Winner

Dr. Steffany Moonaz Named 2024 Health Justice Award Winner


Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) is pleased to announce that Steffany Moonaz, PhD, C-IAYT has been named the recipient of the 2024 SCU Health Justice Award. For over 10 years, Dr. Moonaz has worked toward making integrative health more accessible, acceptable, feasible, safe, and appropriate for underrepresented chronic pain populations. 

James Whedon DC, MS founded the SCU Health Justice Award to recognize, support, and encourage efforts of the SCU community to advance health justice. “Health Justice is the imperative that all people have the right to the highest attainable health,” he says. “Systems and institutions should support the right to health by providing equal access to compassionate, affordable healthcare. Integrative health and medicine must include Health Justice as a central mission, and diversity, equity, and inclusion as core principles.”

Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The SCU Health Justice Award is awarded to any full-time member of the SCU community (staff, faculty, or student) who demonstrates exceptional contributions to the advancement of Health Justice through clinical health care, public health work, advocacy, activism, scholarship, or community service. 

Dr. Moonaz’s Contributions to Health Justice

Dr. Moonaz conducted graduate work at Johns Hopkins involving adapting a yoga intervention for people living with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. “At that time, yoga was generally unavailable for older persons and those with limited mobility, as was robust research to determine whether to recommend it,” she says. 

The intervention was provided to a diverse population in Baltimore City, including race, age, and disease characteristics, where she found discrepancies in attendance and participation by age, race, and baseline fitness. 

Dr. Moonaz with SCU president Dr. John Scaringe and SCU faculty and staff at AIHM 2023

This led to a partnership with NIH Nursing to deliver the same intervention in Washington DC for African American and Spanish-speaking patients, keeping race and language concordance and cultural considerations at the forefront of delivery.

She has also developed yoga interventions for individualized chronic pain care for delivery in three federally qualified health centers in Bronx, NY. Her current work involves delivering yoga to persons with chronic low back pain and substance use disorder receiving medically assisted treatment with methadone or buprenorphine.

“[My] ongoing research efforts explore the use of integrative health at the intersection of chronic pain and substance use disorders,” Dr. Moonaz says. “My aim with these efforts and my volunteer work with the Arthritis Foundation is to change lifelong chronic pain care, across the whole-person health spectrum, and for all.”

On Dr. Moonaz’s achievement, Jennifer Noborikawa, DACM, BS, L.Ac., Dipl. O.M. says, “I believe that Dr. Moonaz’s work embodies [the mission of Health Justice] as it directly addresses health inequities and seeks to deliver interventions to underserved/represented communities. I hope that our campus community will learn by her example and seek to leverage their medicine and privilege for the health of all.” 
Congratulations, Dr. Moonaz!

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