Antonia C. Novello was sworn in as the 14th Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on March 9, 1990. She was the first woman and the first Hispanic to hold the position.
A specialist in pediatric kidney diseases and AIDS, Dr. Novello is a strong advocate of children's health issues. Highlights of her tenure in office included campaigns against smoking and the marketing practices of producers of fortified wine and beer.
She received the M.D. degree from the University of Puerto Rico, served her pediatric internship and residency at the University of Michigan, and completed her subspecialty training in pediatric nephrology at Michigan and at Georgetown University. She also holds the master's degree in public health from the Johns Hopkins University.
After three years in the private practice of pediatrics and nephrology, she joined the U.S. Public Health Service and served at the National Institutes of Health. She rose to the position of deputy director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, where she was responsible for the direction and administration of extramural programs and for the coordination of pediatric AIDS research.