Lister, who will join later this year, will be handed the title director of communications.
His appointment follows the departure of director general of communications Sian Jarvis, who left last month.
The change in title reflects the drop in the number of director general level civil servants.
Lister, however, will have the same responsibilities, including oversight of marketing campaigns such as anti-obesity initiative Change4Life. The role of marketing head Sheila Mitchell is unaffected.
The DoH has seen its marketing and communications budget cut since the coalition put a freeze on marketing budgets last June.
Campaigns have switched to a partnership approach after Health Secretary Andrew Lansley called on brands to help pay for public health campaigns in exchange for no new statutory regulation.
Recent activity under the Change4Life umbrella includes The Great Swapathon, article a partnership to promote healthy living with Asda and The Daily Mirror.
A DoH statement says Lister brings “a wealth of experience on health policy and also extensive experience as a senior manager”.