The David J. Leffell Prize for Clinical Excellence was presented to Michael G. Caty, MD, MMM, on Wednesday, Aug. 31, at a ceremony in the Medical Historical Library at Yale School of Medicine. Caty is Robert Pritzker Professor of Surgery (Pediatrics) and professor of pediatrics; chief of the Section of Pediatric Surgery in the Department of Surgery; and surgeon-in-chief of Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital (YNHCH).
The annual Leffell Prize was established by David J. Leffell, MD, and Cindy Leffell in 2008 to recognize the medical school faculty member who best exemplifies clinical expertise, a commitment to teaching, and the highest standards of care and compassion for patients. The award presentation was the first in-person ceremony for the Leffell Prize since 2019.
Caty said he was “overjoyed” to receive the Leffell Prize, and grateful for his career as a pediatric surgeon. “The opportunity to provide surgical solutions for sick and injured children and restore them to their families is an extraordinary and profound privilege,” Caty said. “But pediatric surgery is a team sport, and we only achieve these outcomes through the concerted and collaborative efforts of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and the administrative teams that support us.”
Caty’s nomination for the Leffell Prize was a team effort as well. He was nominated for the award by the entire Section of Pediatric Surgery, and his nomination was accompanied by letters of support from physicians in a range of disciplines, who described him as a visionary leader, a highly skilled and compassionate surgeon, and a dedicated educator. Caty is one of 22 Yale Medicine physicians who were nominated for this year’s Leffell Prize.
“You are an extraordinary technical surgeon, but I think what people commented on the most is that you take time to address the questions and concerns from patients and families and teach them about their complex medical conditions,” said Nancy J. Brown, MD, Jean and David W. Wallace Dean of Medicine, in presenting the award to Caty. “That can really provide peace and comfort to families when they’re in a pretty tough situation.”
Among his many clinical achievements, Caty led the creation of a multidisciplinary program for minimally invasive repair of chest wall abnormalities, which was not previously offered routinely at Yale, and for which there has been a tremendous demand. Caty also served as interim chair of the Department of Surgery from 2016-2018, where he continued the department’s growth and excellence during a period of transition.
During the award ceremony, Brown read comments from several colleagues who were unable to attend. They included Clifford Bogue, MD, chair of the Department of Pediatrics, who said of Caty: “He has built one of the best sections of Pediatric Surgery in the nation. His dedication to the children and families that we serve at YNHCH is unparalleled.”
Brown also read comments from Cynthia Sparer, executive director of Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, who described Caty’s leadership as “transformative.”
“He developed a culture of caring,” Sparer wrote. “Our programs grew as did the hospital’s reputation for surgical excellence combined with a human touch, very much a reflection of the leader, Mike Caty.”