Sonia Y. Angell, MD, MPH, receives the 2020 Chairman’s Award

The American Heart Association named Sonia Y. Angell, MD, MPH, DTM&H, recipient of the 2020 Chairman’s Award. Dr. Angell is assistant clinical professor of medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University.


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The American Heart Association named Sonia Y. Angell, MD, MPH, DTM&H, recipient of the 2020 Chairman’s Award. Dr. Angell is assistant clinical professor of medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University.

“Dr. Angell is a dynamic leader in public health and the promotion of cardiovascular health, with a keen understanding of the complexities of reaching broad and diverse populations,” said AHA Chair Bertram L. Scott, who presented the award. “A few of her most significant public health achievements include enacting the nation’s first municipal regulation to ban trans fatty acids in New York City in 2006; launching national coalitions to reduce sodium and sugar in our food supply in 2010 and 2013; introducing New York City’s first e-cigarette license and tobacco retail reduction; and launching the Global Standardized Hypertension Treatment Program. We are proud to recognize her incredible achievements with the 2020 Chairman’s Award.”

Dr. Angell’s previous roles included serving as state public health officer and director of the California Department of Public Health through August 2020, where she provided leadership for a department charged with advancing health and equity for California’s 40 million residents. She also served as deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene where she oversaw the Division of Prevention and Primary Care as well as serving as the founding director of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Control Program. Dr. Angell also served as a senior advisor for Global Noncommunicable Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she established the Agency’s Global Noncommunicable Disease Unit. She has also been an independent consultant to the Pan American Health Organization.

Dr. Angell’s work has had a major impact in the U.S. and globally on critical public health issues, such as hypertension and tobacco control, improving the food and physical environment, access to quality clinical care and the use of health information technology. Throughout her career, Dr. Angell’s approach has brought attention to the importance of closing gaps in health outcomes and addressing health inequities, including those related to social determinants of health.

Dr. Angell’s efforts were critical to the creation of the American Heart Association’s 2030 Impact Goals. From 2017-2018, she served as co-chair of the AHA’s 2030 Impact Goal Taskforce, and she was the lead author of the Presidential Advisory from the AHA detailing the association’s 2030 Strategic Goals, published earlier this year in the AHA’s flagship journal Circulation.

“COVID-19 disproportionately takes the lives of people of color and of those with underlying co-morbidities including cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Angell said. “These disparate outcomes are patterned by inequities across our systems and multiple social determinants of health. I am proud to have helped shape the AHA’s 2030 Impact Goals, where we concretely set our sights on a world where population health is anchored in an understanding of equity. I am deeply honored to receive the 2020 Chairman’s Award.” 

Dr. Angell served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal and is a graduate of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program. She earned her medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco and completed her residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She also received a diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from the London School as well as a master’s degree in public health from the University of Michigan.