LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive and a top pandemic adviser to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, is leaving state government for a new job.

She will be replaced at least temporarily by Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, a senior public health physician in the Department of Health and Human Services who oversaw the state’s COVID-19 testing strategy.

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Khaldun, whom the governor calls “Dr. J,” was appointed as chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health in March 2019. She also is a practicing emergency physician at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

“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,” Whitmer said in a statement. “The state of Michigan and I are incredibly grateful for your service.”

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Khaldun, who is Black, is credited with quickly recognizing the coronavirus’ disparate impact on communities of color and helping to form a task force to reduce disparities. She often participated in the governor’s COVID-19 news conferences.

The state has begun a search to select a permanent chief medical executive.

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