Health Sciences


The Division of Health Sciences leads by leveraging expertise, fostering collaboration, and supporting innovation to improve the health of West Virginians, particularly rural and underserved populations. Our initiatives are designed to grow and strengthen the healthcare workforce of the future through promoting equitable access to and support of health and behavioral health sciences education, research, practice, and policy.

Rural Health Initiative

The division coordinates statewide healthcare workforce development initiatives and programming, including oversight of the Rural Health Initiative - a statewide program directed at improving the recruitment and retention of healthcare providers to rural areas of the state. The initiative provides rural community-based training and enrichment opportunities for students in dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and allied health fields. Per the legislative directive, most funds are granted to the three academic health centers in the state and are directed at four main objectives:

  1. Increasing the recruitment of healthcare providers to rural areas
  2. Increasing the retention rate of healthcare providers in rural areas
  3. Developing pipeline programs to enhance student interest in rural healthcare careers
  4. Supporting the involvement of rural areas in the health education process

DOWNLOAD: Rural Health Initiative brochure

More information on the specific programs at each academic health center can be found at the links below:

Marshall University Rural Health Initiative

West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine Rural Health Initiative

West Virginia University Rural Health Initiative

Additional Programs & Initiatives

The Division also provides grants on a limited ad hoc basis to other health programs and organizations whose work aligns with the RHI goals. The link below lists projects funded in past year:

Another Division initiative is the Rural Health Residency Program, which provides funding to medical schools and residency programs to increase the retention of the state’s medical school graduates into West Virginia based residency programs. This program also supports collaborative meetings among the state’s residency programs.

The Division convenes a Health Sciences Division Advisory Committee to provide advice and creative insight into increasing the impact of the activities of the Division. Members have a diverse and dynamic point of view from different sectors and backgrounds all across the state. A list of current members can be found at the link below:

The Division administers the Health Sciences Service Program, a loan repayment program for 12 different health professions, which provides students with a loan repayment award of either $15,000 or $30,000 in exchange for a service commitment in an underserved area.

The Division is also home to the West Virginia Perinatal Partnership and the West Virginia Center for Nursing.

Behavioral Health Programs Behavioral Health Programs

The Division’s Behavioral Health Programs focus includes administering the Mental Health Loan Repayment Program and collaborating on behavioral health workforce initiatives in higher education across the state. Through a joint effort with the Division of Student Affairs, our staff provides support to West Virginia’s two and four year colleges and universities for addressing student mental health and emotional well-being.


304-558-0530 (office)  |  304-558-0532 (fax)  |  1018 Kanawha Blvd. East, Charleston, WV

Office suite: Boulevard Tower, 7th floor


Cynthia Persily

Dr. Cynthia Persily, Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences

304-558-0530 ext. 26358
Carolyn Canini

Carolyn Canini, Director of Behavioral Health Programs

304-558-0530 ext. 26391

Matthew Pauley, Business and Grants Coordinator

304-558-0530 ext. 26359

Jordyn Reed, Administrator, West Virginia Center for Nursing

304-558-0838 ext. 26393

Michelle Ruppert, Health Sciences Program Administrator

304-558-0530 ext. 26392