Saturday, April 13, 2024

2023 Top Doctors: A report on the state’s most respected doctors as selected by their peers

North Carolina’s most respected doctors in 65 specialties are presented in this annual report. Those cited were selected by their peers with a goal of saluting the state’s leading medical practitioners.

Methodology and disclaimer: This report was produced by DataJoe Research, a software and research company specializing in data collection and verification. The Lakewood, Colo.-based company conducts various nominations across the United States on behalf of publishers. To create the “top doctors” list, DataJoe Research facilitated an online peer-voting process, also referencing government sources. DataJoe then tallied the votes per category for each doctor to isolate the top nominees in each category. After collecting nominations and additional information, DataJoe checked and confirmed that each published winner had a current, active license status with the state regulatory board. If we were not able to find evidence of a doctor’s current, active registration with the state regulatory board, that doctor was excluded from the list. In addition, any doctor who has been disciplined, up to the time-frame of our review process for an infraction by the state regulatory board, was excluded from the list. Finally, DataJoe presented the tallied result to the magazine for its final review and adjustments.

We recognize that there are many good doctors who are not shown in this representative list. This is only a sampling of the huge array of talented professionals within the region. Inclusion in the list is based on the opinions of responding doctors in the region and the results of our research campaign. We take time and energy to ensure fair voting, although we understand that the results of this survey nomination are not an objective metric. We certainly do not discount the fact that many, many good and effective doctors may not appear on the list.

DataJoe uses best practices and exercises great care in assembling content for this list. DataJoe does not warrant that the data contained within the list are complete or accurate. DataJoe does not assume, and hereby disclaims, any liability to any person for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions herein whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause. All rights reserved. No commercial use of the information in this list may be made without written permission from DataJoe.

For research/methodology questions, contact the research team at

In addition to the list of doctors, here are 6 doctors with impressive stories:

Family Medicine

Brian Lanier was inspired to become a physician after his experiences as a Marine communications officer in Iraq. He joined the Marines shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Pender County native studied music at UNC Wilmington and earned a business degree from N.C. State University. He returned to N.C. State in 2007 to prepare himself for medical school. He earned a four-year, full tuition, merit-based scholarship (John and Kit Latimer Excellence Fund Scholar) to the UNC School of Medicine. He graduated in 2014.

In 2017, Lanier founded Promina Health in Wilmington. The practice uses a direct primary care model, charging a monthly membership fee that covers patients’ primary care office visits and services rather than billing insurance.

General Surgery
Chapel Hill

Anthony Charles followed a well-worn path to becoming a physician. His father is a doctor. His uncles are physicians. His older sister and younger brother are physicians. His grandfather was the first African to head the Public Health Service in Sub-Saharan Africa. “I never thought of anything else than being a physician,” says Charles.

Charles sees patients at the UNC Hospitals Multispecialty Surgery Clinic. He says he likes being part of a research hospital that’s on the cutting edge of medical advancement.

Charles graduated from the University of Lagos College of Medicine. He served with the Nigerian Army Medical Corps. Residencies include North Middlesex University Hospital in London and Saint Joseph Mercy in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

A passion is serving as director of the UNC Malawi Surgical Initiative. The southeastern African nation has fewer than 50 surgeons serving 18 million people. The program works with doctors and trains them to become surgeons.

Internal Medicine

Laura Diefendorf dreamed of becoming a doctor while playing doctor to her dolls. Board certified in both internal medicine and pediatrics, her patients range from the youngest to oldest.

Her specialties allow her to follow patients with chronic childhood illnesses who may have had a short life expectancy, but who now live past their 50s. “I love following my chronic children all the way through adulthood.”

Diefendorf graduated from medical school at Saint George’s University in the West Indies in 2008. Her community involvement includes providing sports physicals and screening mammograms.

Interventional Cardiology

James Tcheng came to Duke University Medical Center in 1986 for a cardiology fellowship and has remained for more than 35 years. In addition to being a professor at Duke University, he treats patients with heart disease, specializing in cardiac catheterization and coronary angioplasty procedures. His passion is clinical informatics, the discipline that centers on the use of computer technologies to help clinicians deliver the best possible care.

Tcheng is a 1982 graduate of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

He has varied interests outside his work. He describes himself as a “closet architect” who has designed and built several homes. He enjoys computer technology and does programming on the side. He also plays several musical instruments, including alto and tenor saxophone, trombone, guitar and piano.

Medical Oncology and Hematology Hendersonville

Part of being an oncologist is building relationships with patients. As the patient deals with a serious diagnosis, the doctor can learn who that patient really is, what’s important to them and then use those insights to develop the best course of care, says Dr. Navin Anthony.

“The best approach in practicing medicine is that when you are treating a patient, you should see them as you’re treating a loved one or family member,” says Anthony. “I think one of the most important things is openness and communication.”

Anthony graduated from the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2006. He did his residency at Providence Hospital and Medical Center in Southfield, Michigan.


Patricia McHale sees patients limited by injury, so she never tires of seeing them getting back to doing the things they love. “When they are able to return to activity, whether that be daily activities at home or competitive sports, it is affirming and reminds me why I wanted to become a doctor in the first place,” says McHale, who works out of the Gastonia and Belmont offices of OrthoCarolina. She’s also head team physician at North Gaston High School.

McHale is a rarity. In 2020, females made up just 6% of practicing orthopedic surgeons, according to the National Institute of Health. McHale is a graduate of Baylor College
of Medicine.

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