Herstory Thursdays: Antonia Novello


The first woman and the first latino to hold the position of Surgeon General of the United States, Antonia Novella changed the world of modern medicine with her accomplishments.

Born in Puerto Rico, Antonia's inspiration to become a doctor came about in part because of her own history with a medical condition that could only be fixed by surgery. She completed her M.D from the University of Puerto Rice and then later completed her medical training at University of Michigan. After several years in the private health sector, Antonia joined the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in 1978. She later became the deputy director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.  In 1982 she earned her degree in public health from Johns Hopkins and helped draft the Organ Transplantation Procurement Act of 1984.

In 1990, Antonia Novella was named the Surgeon General of the United States by President Bush. During her time as Surgeon General she focused on the health of women, children, and minorities. She did work with AIDs prevention in women and children and drug abuse. During the Gulf War, she expedited vaccinations for soldiers which later won her accommodation from General Collin Powell. In 1999 she was named commissioner of Health for the State of New York where she served until 2008.

Antonia Novella changed the face of medicine by not only becoming the first latino women to be Surgeon General but because she also brought so much attention to AIDs and health for children.