Two physicians from Edinburg-based Doctors Hospital at Renaissance were awarded Young Physician of the Year awards by the National Hispanic Medical Association, according to a news release.

Gerardo Lopez-Mena, vice president of medical affairs at DHR Health, and Michael Martinez, a bariatric surgeon at the DHR Health Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, were among the 12 recipients of the award from NHMA.

The association is a nonprofit organization that aims to empower Hispanic doctors to become leaders and work to eliminate health disparities between the Hispanic and broader nationwide population.

“The National Hispanic Medical Association was instrumental as a beacon of strength for myself and many of my colleagues in training,” Lopez-Mena stated in the release. “To be awarded the Young Physician of the Year Award is a true honor and inspiration for myself; that the work we are doing in South Texas is recognized as true quality work.”

The award is given to physicians who have been out of training for less than five years and “demonstrate achievements in leadership, medical practice, research or training, and a commitment to providing healthcare in a Hispanic community.”

Originally from El Monte, California, Lopez-Mena received his medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City in 2011 and then completed his residency at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland. It was there that he founded Embajadores de Salud de la Comunidad (Ambassadors of Community Health). The program aims to use partnerships between health and faith organizations to educate the Hispanic community about important health topics.

Lopez-Mena began working at DHR Health as physician executive of community engagement before joining medical affairs and the Renaissance Hospitalist group.

Martinez, on the other hand, is an Edinburg native who left the Rio Grande Valley to attend Princeton University in New Jersey and then received his medical degree from Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.

He completed his residency at Baylor Scott & White in Temple, Texas, and then completed fellowship training in advanced laparoscopic and bariatric surgery at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Currently, in addition to being a bariatric surgeon, he is a clinical associate professor in general surgery at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

“I am happy that the idea of caring for Hispanic patients is something to be celebrated,” Martinez stated in the release. “We as Hispanics deserve world-class health care and physicians committed to addressing the special needs of our patient population as much as any other population.”

NHMA selects two physicians from each of their six regions for the award and Lopez-Mena and Martinez were the two chosen from the Southwest Region.

Their awards will be presented at the 22nd annual NHMA Conference on March 22 in Washington, D.C.

bereniceg@themonitor.com