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Getting to know new foot and ankle surgeon Trapper Lalli, MD, new clinical assistant professor in the UNC Department of Orthopaedics.

Trapper Lalli, MD, recently joined UNC Department of Orthopaedics as a clinical assistant professor, specializing in foot and ankle surgery. Dr. Lalli graduated from medical school at West Virginia University and completed his orthopaedic residency there as well. He completed a fellowship in foot and ankle surgery at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in 2016. He joins UNC after practicing for several years at University of Texas Southwestern. Dr. Lalli is seeing patients in the orthopaedic clinics at Weaver Crossing and Panther Creek.

What inspired you to become a doctor?

My grandmother was a nurse during WWII and she was only family member with a medical background. Through sports injuries, I interacted with trainers, therapists and orthopaedic surgeons. I took an anatomy class in high school and loved it and the knowledge of how things worked in the body. A combination of these factors led me to pursue a medical degree.

What inspired you to become an orthopaedist?

During medical school, I met some of the orthopaedic residents and became friends with them. I didn’t know a lot about orthopaedics before medical school, but they had similar personalities as me and really loved their jobs. The more I learned about the work, the more I wanted to do what they did. And we have really cool power tools.

How did you decide to pursue your current subspecialty? Has it met your expectations?

During residency at West Virginia, I had a great mentor and friend, Dr. Bob Santrock. He and I shared similar interests and backgrounds. His enthusiasm was contagious. I absolutely made the right choice with foot and ankle. Foot and ankle is unique in that the procedures can be very diverse from complex reconstructions to joint replacement to ligament repair.

What contributions would you like to make to your specialty?

I think the biggest contribution I could make is to train residents to become excellent foot and ankle orthopaedists.

Why did you decide to go the route of academic medicine rather than private practice?

I feel it is important to teach the next generation. Working in an academic practice allows me to constantly be challenged and stay current on the latest procedures and research.

What drew you to UNC?

We had lived in Texas for several years prior to coming to UNC. Originally being from the east coast, the desire to be closer to family drove our search. UNC provided an excellent opportunity in a great town and to work with world class partners.

What are your research interests and how do you want to pursue them at UNC?

I’m interested in total ankle replacements, bunion correction, 3D printing and patient specific implants.

Other than a doctor, was there any other profession you wanted to be when you were a kid?

I think like a lot of kids, I wanted to play professional baseball. Or be an artist!

What did you wish you had known when you were starting your medical studies? Any advice to first year medical students?

It’s important to take breaks!

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Stay the course.

If you could pick the brain of someone alive or dead, who would it be?

Bob Ross.

What do you do when you aren’t working?

Depends what the pandemic status is! I love spending time with my family. Life has changed a lot lately, so we have been doing a lot of family walks and playing at the house. When things are normal, we love going to the beach.

How would you describe yourself in one word?


If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

Healing hands would be really helpful for my job!