West Virginia names new state health officer, commissioner


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Dr. Matthew Christiansen, director of West Virginia’s office of drug control policy, is now the new state health officer.

Effective immediately, Christiansen will also serve as commissioner of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health, Interim Cabinet Secretary of DHHR Jeffrey Coben and Republican Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday.

Christiansen replaces Dr. Ayne Amjad, who announced in October 2022 that she was stepping down to return to private practice.

“Dr. Amjad stepped into this role in 2020 at the height of the pandemic and has helped guide West Virginia’s COVID response in an incredible way,” Coben said, adding that Christiansen brings a “wealth of knowledge and experience to this critical position.”

“As a physician, he understands the many facets and challenges of public health in West Virginia, and is well positioned to advance the safety and health of residents,” Coben said.

Christiansen has served as director of DHHR’s Office of Drug Control Policy since October 2020, when he was appointed to the position by Justice. He also serves as an associate professor in the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Prior to joining DHHR, Christiansen was active in primary care and addiction treatment. He earned his medical degree and master of public health degree from Marshall University.

The search is now underway for the next director of DHHR’s Office of Drug Control Policy, officials said.


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