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Noon Award Honors Outstanding Medical Students in Cardiac Care Unit

Friday, May 28, 2021

Three University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson medical school graduates were selected to receive the 2021 Zenas B. Noon Award for Excellence in Cardiology. The award was established by the family of Dr. Noon, a surgeon born in Nogales, AZ who served that community for more than three decades.

Joseph Heiler, MD, will begin an eight-year cardiothoracic surgery residency at the University of Utah. “Since my early days of medical school, I have had a deep interest in cardiology, cardiac basic science and cardiac physiology. During my clinical years, I developed a research interest in cardiac surgery and interventional cardiology. I was fortunate to come across Dr. Jil Tardiff (UArizona Sarver Heart Center) and the Sarnoff Foundation, leading to a research year at Stanford University in Dr. Joe Wu’s cardiac basic science lab,” said Dr. Heiler. “Having a mentor like Dr. Tardiff helped me navigate medical school and the cardiac world. Her guidance and assistance have been invaluable. She deeply inspired me as I begin my career.”

Influenced by Kenneth Fox, MD, pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon at the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson, Dr. Heiler may pursue a fellowship in that field in the future. “Cardiac surgery is an incredible field that allows me to help patients in a direct and meaningful manner.”

Other areas of interest include translational research that directly improves patient care. Dr. Heiler and his brother are working on building medical records systems and hope to bring one to market someday that will significantly impact the practice of medicine.

Originally from Phoenix, he studied biology as an undergraduate and obtained a master’s in bioinformatics at Arizona State University.

“Reading about Dr. Noon was an inspiring story. He was able to pay his way through medical school during the Depression by playing saxophone and clarinet with a band. I am an amateur musician myself and I really admire his resilience through such a difficult time. Thank you to the Noon family for your support of me individually, but more importantly of the University of Arizona College of Medicine,” said Dr. Heiler.  

Chelsea Marshall, MD, a Tucson native, will move to Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale to pursue internal medicine residency. “I definitely have a passion for cardiology and am interested in pursuing further training in cardiovascular disease. The physiology of the heart is a topic that has always intrinsically made sense to me and excited me. Many of my most significant patient encounters and fun learning experiences have been while working with Sarver Heart Center cardiologists,” Dr. Marshall said.

The daughter of a cardiologist, she grew up coloring on blank hospital progress notes and working on math homework in her father’s clinical practice while eating her favorite after school snack, hospital Jell-O. “In sixth grade I wrote a research paper on atherosclerosis and the impact it has on society, not realizing at that time how important this disease would be in my future career. This early exposure to medicine has always intrigued me and this interest only continues to grow as I progress in my training,” said Dr. Marshall, who studied biochemistry at University of San Diego before returning to Tucson to attend the College of Medicine.

“I think medicine is the best job out there. You get to solve complex problems and build relationships with patients over time. You get to leave work knowing you made a difference in someone’s life that day,” added Dr. Marshall, who hopes to return to Tucson to practice medicine.

“I would like to thank the Noon family for this incredible contribution to the College of Medicine. Receiving this award has meant a great deal to me and is very motivating and exciting,” said Dr. Marshall.

Luis Paulino, MD, matched to University of South Florida’s internal medicine residency program, which means a homecoming for this newly graduated doctor who was born in the Dominican Republic, but raised in Pembroke Pines, Fla.

After rotating through the cardiology service during his third and fourth years of medical school, Dr. Paulino realized the reasons he decided to pursue a career in medicine were exemplified by this specialty. “A career in cardiology will allow me to develop long-standing relationships with my patients while at the same time offering a wide range of versatile tools and skills to best address my patient’s health needs,” said Dr. Paulino.

A former high school science teacher, Dr. Paulino has an interest in combining his passions for medicine and education in a career in academic medicine. “One of the most rewarding aspects of being a teacher was that I was able to advocate for my students during a time in their lives when they needed it most. My love for the sciences, coupled with the opportunity to be a patient advocate for those in underserved communities led me to continue my education in the health sciences,” said Dr. Paulino. 

During medical school he completed two distinction tracks – the Commitment to Underserved Population program, where he volunteered in free health clinics throughout Tucson; and the Bilingual Medical Spanish Track. “I worked closely with Latino faculty and standardized patients to improve physician-patient communication when working with the Spanish-speaking population,” said Dr. Paulino. Further, he worked on the admission committee, served as chair of the Safety and Security Committee as part of the Antiracism in Medicine (ARiM) initiative, and on the board of the Latino Medical Student Association where he organized a mentorship program with a local high school in Tucson

“I am truly humbled to have been chosen for the Noon award. Dr. Noon trained and practiced during challenging times in our country’s history but his ability to adapt to change in order continue to serve his patients as well as his country is why I believe Dr. Noon is such an extraordinary individual. As I progress throughout my career, I will emulate Dr. Noon’s dedication to his career and patients and do what is necessary to best address the health needs of my community. Thank you for this great honor,” said Dr. Paulino.

About the Noon Award

Zenas Barnard Noon was born in Nogales, AZ, in May 1905. After attending the University of Arizona, Dr. Noon graduated from the Medical College of Virginia in 1930. During the depression his means of self-financial aid was to play the saxophone and clarinet in a band on nights and weekends. He served his medical internship at the University of Michigan, studied postgraduate surgery at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania.

He completed his training in 1933 and accepted a position as medical director of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration Transient Camp in Nogales, where he also established a private practice. While he tried to limit his work to surgery, the economic conditions of the time demanded he also practice general medicine. He was the only surgeon in Nogales for 35 years except for the four years he was on active duty during World War II with the U.S. Army Medical Corp as an orthopedic surgeon.

Dr. Noon was active as a member of the American Medical Association, Arizona Medical Association, Santa Cruz County Medical Society, State Board of Medical Examiners and the Arizona Industrial Commission Review Board. He was a physician for the Nogales Volunteer Fire Department and an active member of the Nogales Lions Club and Elks Lodge.

Dr. Noon was a devoted family man. He and his wife, Mary, had six children, all of whom attended the University of Arizona. His son, George, is a cardiovascular surgeon and holds the Meyer-DeBakey Chair in Investigative Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

Dr. Zenas Noon suffered a heart attack in 1971 and decided to give up his surgical practice and broaden his general practice. After his heart attack, he finally began to take the vacations he so often prescribed to his patients. He died suddenly in 1981 while on safari with his wife, son and daughter-in-law. The family is thankful for the excellent care Dr. Noon received from the members of the Cardiology Division at the University Hospital in 1971. Subsequently they have generously set up the Zenas B. Noon Award for Excellence in Cardiology Award to recognize our outstanding medical students.

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