Keynote Speaker


Dr. Marilyn Hughes Gaston

Former Assistant Surgeon General and Director, Bureau of Primary Health Care, U.S Public Health Service Rear Admiral, USPHS, Ret. Co-Director, The Gaston & Porter Health Improvement Center

Dr. Marilyn Hughes Gaston is an pediatrician, most famous for her work with sickle cell disease (SCD) . She studied zoology at Miami University, and eventually went on to study at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 1960. Gaston started practicing medicine in Lincoln Heights, Ohio. 
After meeting a young patient with SCD, she became entrenched in learning all she could about this disease, working with the National Institutes for Health. In 1986 she published a study proving that long-term penicillin treatment given to SCD children can prevent septic infection. This resulted in legislation by Congress for early SCD screenings, so treatment can begin right away.

Gaston also worked to bring affordable health care to impoverished families, and was the first black woman to direct a public health service bureau (Bureau of Primary Health Care in the U.S. health Resources and Services Administration). She has received many awards in her lifetime, including NMA's Lifetime Achievement Award, every honor awarded by the Public Health Service, and even has Marilyn Hughes Gaston Day celebrated each year in Cincinnati and in Lincoln Heights, Ohio..