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Antonia Coello Novello

First woman Surgeon General in the US (1944-present)



Antonia had ill health during her childhood, and was in and out of hospitals until she was 18 and had surgery to correct her condition. After her ordeal, she wanted to help others, and become a doctor. Antonia went to the University of Puerto Rico for medical school, and studied pediatrics (study of children's illnesses). Dr. Novello became the deputy director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, after having her own private practice. Dr. Antonia Novello was appointed in 1990 by President George Bush to be the Surgeon General of the United States. Dr. Novello was the first Hispanic person and the first woman to become Surgeon General, the highest ranking doctor in the U.S. government. Dr. Antonia Novello helped improve health care for women, children and minorities, as well as increasing education about AIDS, alcohol, and smoking.

Link: Biography of Antonia Novello

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Information adapted from History of Women in Science for Young People by Vivian Sheldon Epstein.