Karen Armitage, MD
Karen Armitage, MD

Karen Armitage, MD, has been named interim dean and director of health policy at the University of New Mexico College of Population Health.

Armitage, an associate clinical professor in the UNM School of Medicine's Department of Family and Community Medicine and former chief medical officer for the New Mexico Department of Health, is stepping in following the departure of Deborah Helitzer, ScD, who has served as dean since the college was founded in 2016. Helitzer has taken a new job as dean of the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University in Phoenix.

“We wish Dean Helitzer well in her next endeavor,” said Paul B. Roth, MD, MS, Chancellor for Health Sciences. “I am very confident that the College of Population Health will be well served under Dr. Armitage’s capable leadership.”

The College of Population Health, the first new college to open at the Health Sciences Center in more than 50 years, offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in population and public health that primarily focus on promoting wellness and preventing disease. A search for a permanent replacement for Helitzer will be underway shortly, Roth said.

Armitage, who has a BA in biology and an MD from the University of California, San Diego, completed a pediatric residency and postdoctoral fellowship in child health promotion at UNM.

During her career with the Department of Health, she served as a regional health officer, managing outbreaks and emerging infections and providing community health planning, assessment and direct clinical services. As chief medical officer, she oversaw seven health facilities and 33 local health offices.

Armitage was a 2014-2015 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow in Washington, D.C., where she worked in the U.S. Senate. In 2016, she received UNM’s Leonard M. Napolitano, PhD, Award, which recognizes School of Medicine alumni for their support of the school and its patients.

Most recently, she directed Vision 2.0, a statewide health improvement initiative in UNM’s Office for Community Health. She has also had a secondary faculty appointment in the College of Population Health.