Dr. Tom Catena


Aurora Humanitarian Initiative

Tom Catena, MD is a surgeon, veteran, catholic missionary, globally-recognized humanitarian and inaugural Chair of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative.

In his role as Aurora Chair, Dr. Catena engages with politicians, humanitarian organizations, practitioners, and everyday people around the world to spread the message of Gratitude in Action.

Founder of the Mother Mercy Hospital in Sudan’s war-ravaged Nuba mountains, Dr. Catena has dedicated the last decade of his life to providing medical care as the only surgeon permanently based in a region the size of Austria. Despite an effective embargo on humanitarian supplies, the withdrawal of other NGOs, and the constant threat of air raids on the hospital, Dr. Catena provides treatment for more than 750,000 people suffering ailments from malnourishment and typhoid, to cancer and war wounds.

A graduate of Duke University’s School of Medicine, Dr. Catena began his medical career in the United States Navy, serving four years as a flight surgeon. Following his residency, Dr. Catena spent six years as a volunteer at St. Mary’s Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, before moving to Sudan to cofound the hospital he still leads.

In 2017, Dr. Catena was awarded the $1.1 million Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, which honors unsung heroes working to preserve human life at great personal risk.

He is the recipient of Honorary Doctorates from Brown University (2016) and Yerevan State Medical University (2017) and was named one of the 100 most influential people by Time magazine in 2015. He was appointed Aurora’s inaugural Chair in December 2018, a position he maintains in parallel with his ongoing responsibilities as Medical Director of the Mother Mercy Hospital in Sudan.