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Marilyn Sanders wearing blue shirt and glasses, smiling

Dr. Marilyn Sanders

Physician, Scholar, Educator, Consultant, and Author

My Mission

  1. Optimize health and well-being of babies, children, and their families by promoting safe and secure early relationships;

  2. Educate health care and early childhood professionals to support vulnerable children and families in the development and maintaining of safe and secure early relationships;

  3. Build improved systems of health and mental health care for children and families, incorporating principles of social justice. 

"We have appreciated your professionalism throughout our NICU journey. This experience has been the hardest thing we've ever had to go through, and you served as a light during some of our darkest days. We so appreciated your positivity, humor, kindness and expertise. You made us feel so included in our children's care and gave us the gift of feeling like parents for the first time."

- Mother of premature twins


Dr. Sanders is a board-certified pediatrician and neonatologist. She provides clinical care for critically ill newborns, infants, and young children at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) in Hartford, Connecticut. As a neonatologist, she cares for babies with a wide range of medical problems that require intensive care services. In CCMC’s Neurodevelopmental Follow-up Clinic, she also sees babies from four months to three years of age who are at risk for developmental challenges.

Mother and Baby on Floor
baby breast feeding while looking at mom


Dr. Sanders lectures throughout the United States and Europe, and routinely works with clinicians and trainees from pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, nursing and social work. In addition to addressing health care providers, she is also frequently invited to speak to state and community agencies working with young children and their families, early childhood policy advisors, and undergraduate and graduate students.


Dr. Sanders is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.  Her scholarly work focuses on enhancing the social and emotional well-being of vulnerable infants and children, many of whom were exposed to early trauma. Her approach to trauma-informed care is embedded in the Polyvagal Theory that elaborates how our unconscious nervous system’s sense of safety, danger, or life threat affects our emotions and behaviors.

baby nicu hand touching adult hand


Dr. Sanders provides education, training, and consultation to health care provider groups and hospital systems. Her consultations are focused on preventing and treating burnout among health care providers and enhancing awareness of the role of the unconscious nervous system in clinican-patient relationships. 


Dr. Sanders writes papers and book chapters on trauma-informed care for young infants, children, and their families in the hospital setting. With her co-author, child psychiatrist George Thompson, Dr. Sanders has published The Polyvagal Theory and the Developing Child: Strengthening Systems of Care for Kids, Families, and Communities, a book that “offers both a meditation on caregiving and a call to action for physicians, educators, and mental health providers.”

parents playing with baby outside while laying down

Curriculum Vitae

Download a full PDF of my CV or see brief version below.


Connecticut Children's Medical Center | Hartford, Connecticut

University of Connecticut School of Medicine | Professor of Pediatrics


Certificate, University of Massachusetts-Boston, Infant-Parent Mental Health Postgraduate Certificate Program


University of Connecticut Health Center, Neonatal - Perinatal Medicine

Johns Hopkins Hospital, Neonatal - Perinatal Medicine


University of Connecticut Health Center, Pediatrics


University of Kansas School of Medicine, Doctor of Medicine


Diplomate:  Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine 
Diplomate: American Board of Pediatrics 
Diplomate: National Board of Medical Examiners


Connecticut Children's Medical Center, active staff
Hartford Hospital, active staff
Eastern Connecticut Health Network, courtesy staff
John Dempsey Hospital, affiliate staff


(selected - since 2010 and current)
Chair, Ethics Committee, CCMC, 2011-2013
Member, Ethics Committee, 2011-
Medical Director, Neonatal transport, CCMC, 2012-
Co-Chair, Connecticut Perinatal Quality Collaborative, 2014-
Member, Department of Pediatrics, Promotions, CCMC 2016-
Chair, Specialty Collaborative BPD Workgroup, 2018-
Neonatal Lead, Perinatal Palliative Care, 2016-


(selected – since 2010 and current)
Co-Director, Connecticut Perinatal Quality Collaborative, 2015-
Advisory Board, The Polyvagal Institute, 2020-

James A. Kangos Pediatrics Award for Excellence in Patient Care and Teaching
McNeill Teaching Award for Pediatric Residents, 
Teaching Award for an Affiliated Institution, University of Connecticut Pediatric Residency Training Program
Mission Triangle Award, March of Dimes
Tanya Simeone Memorial Breastfeeding Support Award

(selected 2019 – 2021)

Please see Dr. Sanders’ full CV for a complete listing of her invited presentations. 

  • Featured speaker, “Take your own pulse: Supporting autonomic co-regulation in the newborn intensive care unit,” Science and the Soul, Second International Conference on Trauma-informed Care in the NICU, Brugge, Belgium, February 2019

  • Featured speaker, “Take your own pulse: Self regulate to co-regulate,” New England Association of Neonatal Nurses, March 2019

  • Featured speaker, “Palliative care in the newborn intensive care unit,” Grand rounds, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, May 2019

  • Featured speaker, “Social Connectedness and Attachment: The path to population health,” Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, July 2019

  • Featured speaker, Cultivating Resilience Conference, The Connections, Middletown CT, October 21, 2019

  • Featured speaker, Science and the Soul, “Integrating Science with the Soul: Resilience Throughout the Lifecourse,” Third International Conference on Trauma-informed Care in the NICU, Lisbon, Portugal, February 27-29, 2020

  • Featured speaker and workshop facilitator, “Polyvagal Theory and its importance for NICU care of babies and families,” 33rd Annual Gravens Conference on the Environment of Care for High Risk Newborns, Clearwater Beach, Florida, March 4-7, 2020

  • Featured Speaker, “The First Hundred Days: Promoting Safety, Security, and Connectedness in the NICU,” National Perinatal Association, December, 2020

  • Grand Rounds, “Secure Attachment: A Portal to Population Health,” The Institute of Living, February 11, 2021

  • Featured Speaker, “Scaffolding Babies and Families to Build Resilience,” Prematurity: A transdisciplinary approach to understanding the baby’s experience Center for Prenatal and Perinatal Programs, March 10, 2021

  • Featured speaker, “The Great Masquerader: Is What You See What You Get?” Pot of Gold Conference, March 19, 2021

  • Featured speaker, “Taking Your Own Pulse: How Polyvagal Theory Influences Our Role as Caregivers,” Pot of Gold Conference, March 19, 2021

  • Featured Speaker, “Moving from What’s Wrong to What Happened? Supporting Women and Families in Recovery,” FASD/SEI Conference, April 12, 2021

  • Featured Speaker, “In an insecure world breath-based practices promote attachment, emotional development, and resilience,” American Psychiatric Association, May 4, 2021

  • Featured Speaker, “Social Connectedness in the Time of Covid: The Polyvagal Theory as a Bridge to Communication,” Whole Being Films, June 12, 2021



Journal  articles:

Invited  articles and chapters

Consultations and scholarly papers

Abstracts and presentations


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