LANSING, Mich. – Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, has taken a new job outside of state government and will be replaced by Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian during a search for a permanent replacement, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced.
“Thanks to Dr. J’s around-the-clock leadership, our state acted quickly with the best available data and science to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save countless lives during the pandemic,” Whitmer said. “At the height of COVID-19, we stood side by side to keep our state safe through one of the most difficult periods in our lives.”
Khaldun’s last day will be Sept. 30, and her new position will be announced in the coming weeks, according to the announcement.
Bagdasarian will officially take over the position on Oct. 1, and the state is conducting a nationwide search for Khaldun’s permanent replacement.
“Dr. J also sounded the alarm on COVID-19 disproportionately impacting people of color, and she co-chaired the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities, which has made significant progress towards reducing COVID-19 mortality rate disparities for Michiganders of color,” Whitmer said. “While we wish we could keep Dr. J at the helm, I wish her the best of luck as she moves on to a well-deserved opportunity. The state of Michigan and I are incredibly grateful for your service.
“Michiganders across the state have benefited from Dr. Bagdasarian’s expertise through her work leading the state’s COVID-19 testing strategy to keep everyone safe. Dr. Bagdasarian is a world-renowned medical expert with a wealth of experience. She is a proven leader who will continue to guide us through the pandemic. I look forward to collaborating with her as we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and keep Michigan healthy.”
Bagdasarian has worked in Michigan and internationally for the last decade, according to the state. Since early 2020, she has provided technical guidance on outbreak preparedness and COVID-19 to the international community.
For the last year, she has served the state as senior public health physician with MDHHS, where she oversaw the SARS-CoV-2 testing strategy, the release says.
Bagdasarian received her medical degree from Wayne State University and her master of public health from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She completed training in internal medicine and infectious diseases at Michigan Medicine.
“These past months have been full of unprecedented challenges and change on the public health front, and there is much work to be done,” Bagdasarian said. “We can’t thank Dr. Khaldun enough for her work and leadership during her years with the city of Detroit, the state of Michigan and MDHHS. I am honored to be named the state’s chief medical executive. I know we have a committed, resolute, and untiring team that cares deeply about public health and moving past this current crisis.”
“I am so grateful to Gov. Whitmer, Director Hertel, and all of the state departments, local health departments, health systems, physicians and community organizations across Michigan that I have had the privilege to work with over the last five years in my roles at the Detroit Health Department and the State of Michigan,” Khaldun said. “This work has been the honor of my life. I’ve been inspired by the entire MDHHS team and their expertise and dedication to serving the people of Michigan. Dr Bagdasarian is an accomplished public health expert and epidemiologist and I am confident she will serve the state well in this new role. This is very bittersweet, but I am excited for this new and unique opportunity to continue doing my life’s work of advancing bold programs and policies that promote the health of all communities.”