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This year’s Robert C. Cefalo House Officer Awards were given to UNC Medical Center residents: Marcos Lopez, MD, Plastic Surgery; Aurelie Merlo, MD, Cardiothoracic Surgery; David Mysona, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology; Katy Reines, MD, Urology; and Ajan Sivaramamoorthy, MD, Pediatrics.

The Robert C. Cefalo, MD, House Officer Award recognizes members of the Hospitals’ House staff for exemplary service to patients and families, professional performance and compassionate patient care. This award is intended to honor Robert C. Cefalo, MD, PhD, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology and assistant dean, head of the Office of Graduate Medical Education, Emeritus, UNC School of Medicine. Dr. Robert C. Cefalo served with distinction for 25 years as director of the residency and fellowship programs at UNC Hospitals. Dr. Cefalo passed away in 2008 after a battle with cancer, and this award was renamed the Robert C. Cefalo House Officer Award in 2008 as a permanent memorial to the legacy he left behind. A selection committee of physicians, nurses, and other clinical and administrative staff selected this year’s five honorees, who will each receive a monetary award of $1,000 to cover expenses associated with professional development.

Read more about each of this year’s honorees:

Marcos Lopez, MD, Plastic Surgery

Dr. Lopez is recognized for his ability to build strong relationships with the patients under his care and for serving as a strong role model for more junior residents. His patience, kindness and empathy provide comfort and reassurance to the patient under his care, and while his commitment to service and collaboration with his colleagues helps to foster a stronger team.

From his nominations:

“I cannot think of any resident more deserving of this honor. I have had the opportunity to get to know Dr. Lopez over the last 3 years (since I started my job at UNC). The kindness and compassion he possesses cannot be taught – and the patients and staff know just how lucky they are to be cared for by him. I can think of many times that patients and their families have actively sought me out to tell me how fantastic an experience it was to have him as part of their team. They feel seen and heard as well as taken care of physically which is no small task. I can think of many patients who, in clinic visits, are looking over my shoulder to see if he walks in behind me so they can also see him! There was a patient who had a complex surgery, and wanted to wait until he was back on service for further elective revision procedures. He was not scheduled to help in the operating room for her case that day, but he made sure to come see her preop and post op!”

“Dr. Lopez is a true patient advocate; he takes time out to make sure his patients understand their treatment plans and then works diligently to ensure that they receive the best of care and leave with the best outcome possible. He can connect with patients and their families with minimal effort. He is kind, patient and empathetic, which is demonstrated in each patient interaction. Being bilingual allows him to communicate clearly with our Spanish-speaking patients and this also fosters a trusting relationship. Dr. Lopez demonstrates such care and compassion to his patients, and I would entrust any of my family’s care to him.”


Aurelie Merlo, MD, Cardiothoracic Surgery

Dr. Merlo has distinguished herself not only through her excellence in surgical skill but also in her compassionate, cheerful demeanor. A strong patient advocate, Dr. Merlo takes great care to educate her patients about their care, devoting time to answering any questions they have using words and phrases they will understand, and empowering them to the make the best possible decisions about their care.

From her nominations:

“Aurelie has a very calm and professional demeanor and works well with the entire interdisciplinary team. She never hesitates to answer questions from the nursing staff in the CVTICU, and she is always willing to teach/coach the team in emergency situations. She does not lose her composure even in the most challenging of situations. She always says hello to everyone on the unit and makes everyone feel like they are part of the team. She also never hesitates to talk with family members regarding surgical procedures and the plan of care for the patient.”


David Mysona, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology

Dr. Mysona is celebrated for his zeal for learning and for the practice of medicine. In addition to being a talented clinician and a voracious learner, he is always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone on his unit who needs it, whether that means teaching students at 2 a.m. or helping to clean triage rooms and transport patients during a busy shift.

From his nominations:

“It’s hard to apply enough superlatives to Dr. Mysona. His enthusiasm is infectious, and his love of patient care is palpable. Dr. Mysona has a love of personal learning and pushes all those around him to be evidence based and provide the highest level of care. It would not be a stretch to say his medical knowledge base is above that of many fellows. He is the type of resident who reminds us all why we love teaching, and I can’t wait to see his career bloom.”

“David exemplifies an older style of doctoring, where duty hours and service over education do not exist, but instead dedication to patients drives all decisions. He is so pure in his love for learning, operating, and taking care of people. Our team recommends him for this award wholeheartedly.”


Katy Reines, MD, Urology

Dr. Reines was praised for her exceptional commitment to her colleagues and her patients. She is a talented clinician who has been an exemplary resident since her first day on service. Even when she is juggling a busy consult schedule, she still takes time to help her peers and teammates in any way that she can and epitomizes the compassion and professionalism at the heart of the Cefalo award.

From her nominations:

“On multiple occasions, I have received unsolicited praise from providers around the hospital praising her for her responsiveness, empathy, professionalism, and communication.  This praise has come from the emergency department, the operating room, the clinic, and multiple patient wards.  Her demeanor is consistently positive and constructive and her care has improved the health and wellness of many, many patients and providers too!”

“Often patients tell me stories of how Dr. Reines sat at their bedside, calming their worries, and answering any number of questions. They’ll tell me how she called the day after discharge, when she didn’t necessarily have to call, just to check in and see how they were doing. Patients have recounted to me how Dr. Reines comforted their distressed family members, and how she kept everyone abreast of a patients’ condition during a long surgery. In short, Dr. Reines is the sort of physician you would want to care for your family member if they were in the hospital.”


Ajan Sivaramamoorthy, MD, Pediatrics

Dr. Sivaramamoorthy has been recognized as an outstanding resident with an eagerness to learn and tremendous skill in building rapport with his pediatric patients and their families. His kindness, intelligence and advocacy for his patients builds the kind of trust that is crucial when caring for children, and his calm, intelligent demeanor set him apart as a leader among his peers.

From his nominations:

“Dr. Sivaramamoorthy is an exemplary clinician, but even more so a compassionate, supportive pediatrician. With his unfailing empathy and thoughtfulness, Dr. Sivaramamoorthy serves as a role model for not only his resident peers but also faculty members who work with him. We have received unsolicited feedback from faculty, peers, and families regarding his wonderful patient interactions. Dr. Sivaramamoorthy is a consummate professional and advocate for doing the right thing, no matter the path it will take to get there.”

“Ajan seems to have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge; he’s one of those residents who are so fun to teach because he truly wants to learn. I loved watching Ajan gain some new piece of knowledge, then immediately turn around and pass this on to the intern or student.”