Jeffrey H. Coben, M.D., Interim Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), joined Gov. Jim Justice today to announce the appointment of Matthew Christiansen, M.D., M.P.H., as State Health Officer and Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. This appointment is effective immediately.
Dr. Christiansen currently serves as the Director of DHHR’s Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) and was appointed to this position in October 2020 by Gov. Jim Justice. He also serves as Associate Professor in the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, Department of Family and Community Health where he practices primary care and addiction medicine.
“Dr. Christiansen brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this critical position,” said Dr. Coben. “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.”
Prior to joining DHHR, Dr. Christiansen was active in primary care and addiction treatment across the lifespan. He earned his medical degree and master of public health degree from Marshall University.
“I am greatly honored to serve West Virginia in this capacity,” said Dr. Christiansen. “I look forward to implementing a continued vision for improved health for all residents of this great state.”
Dr. Christiansen replaces Dr. Ayne Amjad, M.D., M.P.H., who announced in October 2022 that she was stepping down. Dr. Amjad has served in an advisory capacity since that time.
“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,” said Dr. Coben. “We appreciate her service and wish her the best as she returns to her private practice.”
Rachel Thaxton, ODCP Assistant Director, and Christina Mullins, DHHR Deputy Secretary of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders, will handle administrative functions of ODCP while a search is conducted for a permanent ODCP Director.