Dr. Antonia Novello was the first person of Hispanic origin to become the Surgeon General of the United States. She earned her M.D. from the University of Puerto Rico, studied nephrology (kidneys) at the University of Michigan, and practiced as a pediatrician before joining the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in 1978. She moved to the National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism and Digestive Disorders at the National Institutes of Health where she helped draft the Organ Transplantation Procurement Act. She then became deputy director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. When she was appointed as Surgeon General in 1990, she advocated for the health of young people and minorities – specifically campaigning against underage drinking, smoking, and drug abuse. Her work has also focused on AIDS awareness and health services for poor communities.

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