ANTONIA COELLO NOVELLO Biography - Famous Medicine & health care related men and women


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Antonia C. Novello (1990-1993)                                                       
Antonia Novello was born Antonia Coello in Fajardo, Puerto Rico on August 23,         
1944. She received her B.S. degree from the University of Puerto Rico at Rio         
Piedras in 1965 and her M.D. degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of     
Medicine at San Juan in 1970. She then completed her internship and residency in     
nephrology at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor. Novello         
remained at Michigan in 1973-1974 on a fellowship in the Department of Internal       
Medicine, and spent the following year on a fellowship in the Department of           
Pediatrics at Georgetown University. From 1976 to 1978, she was in private           
practice in pediatrics in Springfield, Virginia.                                     
In 1978, Novello joined the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, her first       
assignment being as a project officer at the National Institute of Arthritis,         
Metabolism and Digestive Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).         
She held various positions at NIH, rising to the job of Deputy Director of the       
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in 1986. She         
also served as Coordinator for AIDS Research for NICHD from September, 1987. In       
this role, she developed a particular interest in pediatric AIDS.                     
During her years at NIH, Novello earned an M.P.H. degree from the John Hopkins       
School of Hygiene and Public Health in 1982. From 1976, she also held a clinical     
appointment in pediatrics at Georgetown University Hospital. Novello also made       
major contributions to the drafting and enactment of the Organ Transplantation       
Procurement Act of 1984 while assigned to the Senate Committee on Labor and           
Human Resources.                                                                     
Antonia Novello was appointed Surgeon General by President Bush, beginning her       
tenure on March 9, 1990. She was the first woman and the first Hispanic to hold       
the position.                                                                         
During her tenure as Surgeon General, Novello focused her attention on the           
health of women, children and minorities, as well as on underage drinking,           
smoking, and AIDS. She played an important role in launching the Healthy             
Children Ready to Learn Initiative. She was actively involved in working with         
other organizations to promote immunization of children and childhood injury         
prevention efforts. She spoke out often and forcefully about illegal underage         
drinking, and called upon the Health and Human Services Inspector General to         
issue a series of eight reports on the subject. Novello also similarly worked to     
discourage illegal tobacco use by young people, and repeatedly criticized the         
tobacco industry for appealing to the youth market through the use of cartoon         
characters such as "Joe Camel." A workshop that she convened led to the               
emergence of a National Hispanic/Latino Health Initiative.                           
Novello remained in the post of Surgeon General through June 30, 1993. She then       
served as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Special Representative for     
Health and Nutrition from 1993 to 1996. In 1996, she became Visiting Professor       
of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and           
Public Health. Dr. Novello became Commissioner of Health for the State of New         
York in 1999.