Food Systems for Health

Sonia Angell Appointed New Bloomberg Professor of the Practice of American Health

March 7, 2023

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has appointed Sonia Angell, MD, MPH, as a Bloomberg Professor of the Practice of American Health in the Department of Epidemiology. This is an endowed position supported by the Bloomberg American Health Initiative with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Angell is a physician and expert in public health, policy, and systems change, and has over 15 years' experience in government at the local and global levels. While serving in senior leadership positions in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene from 2004 to 2011 and from 2014 to 2019, Angell led a series of efforts to improve the quality of the food supply. These included the country’s first sodium warning labeling requirement and trans fat use restrictions in restaurants; the introduction of food procurement nutrition standards for all New York City government agencies; and the creation of the National Salt Reduction Initiative, now expanded to include sugar reduction in the food supply.

Angell’s expertise in nutrition programs and food policy will inform her work chairing the Bloomberg American Health Initiative’s steering committee on Food Systems for Health, the updated name of the focus area originally called Obesity and Food Systems.


“Dr. Angell is a preeminent national expert in food and nutrition, and also a skilled public health leader with broad experience at the local, state, and global levels,” says Dean Ellen J. MacKenzie, PhD, ScM. “We are thrilled that she is taking on this important role with the Bloomberg American Health Initiative."

Angell served as director of the California Department of Public Health and California State Public Health Officer from 2019 to 2020. In these roles, Angell helped lead the state through the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. As Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene from 2014 to 2019, Angell spearheaded integrating traditional public health with health care delivery systems approaches, including the use of health information technology, to increase health impact and reduce inequities. Her team also provided technical assistance for the city’s first e-cigarette license and tobacco retail-reduction policies. Angell oversaw the New York City Health Department’s first Heart Follow-up Study in 2010, and fielded again in 2018, which included the first representative, population-based assessment of sodium intake at the local level and provided objective measures of the leading risk factors for poor health.

“Dr. Angell’s phenomenal experience and expertise will inform and inspire new efforts to improve our food supply and advance health and well-being in this leadership role in the Bloomberg American Health Initiative,” says Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, director of the Initiative.

From 2011 to 2014, Angell led the Global Noncommunicable Diseases Unit at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She coordinated efforts across the CDC’s centers and with the World Health Health Organization and other global partners. In collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization, her unit launched the Global Standardized Hypertension Project, aimed at improving blood pressure control across the Americas.

“There are few people with the combination of epidemiological expertise and policy experience of Dr. Angell,” says David Celentano, ScD, chair of the Bloomberg School’s Department of Epidemiology. “She will contribute tremendously to our teaching, research, and practice.”

Angell is board certified in internal medicine and remains clinically active. She received her medical degree from the University of California San Francisco, and completed an Internal Medicine residency at Brigham Women's Hospital. She has a diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Michigan.

Angell is a former Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar and a Fellow of the Aspen Institute Health Innovators Program. She was also the 2020 recipient of the American Heart Association’s Chairman’s Award and is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.

“Congratulations to Dr. Angell as she joins Johns Hopkins at this critical time for American public health,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries. “Her deep experience across the country, including crucial leadership roles at New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene where she helped pioneer innovative new policies, will strengthen the Initiative’s extraordinary efforts to advance health and save lives.”

This professorship endowment is part of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, which provides endowment support to at least 25 positions. The Initiative focuses on addressing major health challenges facing the nation, including food systems for health, environmental challenges, addiction and overdose, violence, and adolescent health.

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