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Dr. Khaldun stepping down, Whitmer appoints interim Chief Medical Executive

The state will conduct a nationwide search to select a permanent chief medical executive.
In this photo provided by the Michigan Executive Office of the Governor, Chief Medical...
In this photo provided by the Michigan Executive Office of the Governor, Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, left, speaks at a news conference as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer watches Tuesday, May 26, 2020, in Lansing, Mich. Whitmer announced that people who leave their home for work or those who have coronavirus symptoms can be tested without needing a doctor's note. It was the state's latest move to expand COVID-19 testing, which is seen as critical to slowing the virus particularly as the governor loosens stay-at-home restrictions. (Michigan Executive Office of the Governor via AP)(AP)
Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 1:18 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Friday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the state’s Chief Medical Executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, whom Whitmer would often refer to as “Dr. J,” has accepted a new position, pursuing an opportunity outside of state government. Dr. Khaldun’s new venture will be announced in the coming weeks.

“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,” said Gov. Whitmer. “Michigan has one of the lowest number of cases per capita, and numerous studies show that the tough decisions we made helped save thousands of lives. 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. 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. 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.”

Gov. Whitmer announced that Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian will serve as Dr. Khaldun’s temporary replacement beginning Oct. 1.

“I am proud to appoint Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian as chief medical executive. 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,” continued Gov. Whitmer. “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.”

With a background in internal medicine and infectious diseases, Dr. Bagdasarian has worked both in Michigan and internationally for the last decade, authoring 40 publications on topics in infectious diseases and public health. Since early 2020, she has provided technical guidance on outbreak preparedness and COVID-19to the international community. For the past year, she has served the State of Michigan in the role of Senior Public Health Physician with the Department of Health and Human Services, where she oversaw the SARS-CoV-2 testing strategy for the state.

Dr. 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,” said Dr. Bagdasarian. “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 look forward to collaborating with MDHHS and the Governor’s office and other state departments to address this challenge and any others that may present in the future.”

The State of Michigan will conduct a nationwide search to select a permanent chief medical executive.

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian has been appointed as the interim Chief Medical Executive of Michigan...
Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian has been appointed as the interim Chief Medical Executive of Michigan as Dr. Joneigh Khaldun steps down on Oct. 1.(Michigan Executive Office of the Governor)

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