Antonia Coello Novello, M.D. was born August 23, 1944, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. She was the first woman and the first Hispanic to serve as surgeon general of the United States (1990–93). Novello joined the staff of the National Institutes of Health in 1978, rising to the deputy directorship of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in 1986. In 1982 and 1983 she also served as a congressional fellow on the staff of the Labor and Human Resources Committee. In 1990 President George Bush appointed her surgeon general of the United States. In 1999, she became commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, the largest public health agency in the country and was the state commissioner of health until 2007.
-Written by Lucien Mensah