From Research to Public Health Policy: interview with Professor Martin McKee MAE#

Professor Martin McKee, a member of the Bahavioural Sciences section of Academia Europaea, talks about his passion for Public Health, his role at the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and his latest research on the adverse effects of movement restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

How I became interested in Public Health#

Martin, you are Professor of European Public Health. How did you first become interested in Public Health?

“I trained in internal medicine in Belfast and, as I was following a research track, I was awarded a fellowship in peptide biochemistry. However, there was a clear mismatch between the laboratory work that I was doing and the social determinants of the health of the patients I was treating. In the mid-1980s, I was seeing patients with scurvy and beriberi. I changed direction to public health and began a Masters degree at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. I was somewhat familiar with the work done there, as I had completed an elective at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London, which was closely affiliated with the school. However, studying with students from across the world opened my eyes to the opportunities offered by public health.

In 1989, after completing my doctorate in health services research, I was offered a new post to develop the skills presence in the rest of Europe. As someone who had lived through the troubles in Northern Ireland, with direct experience of the consequences of tribalism, I have always taken an international perspective. In 1973, when interviewed for an English medical school, I was asked the completely inappropriate question of whether I felt myself English or Irish. As a 16-year-old, I answered that I was European. Just after I was offered the post the Berlin wall was torn down. Suddenly the opportunities open to me expanded dramatically. I was able to work with colleagues, initially from Hungary and the then Czechoslovakia, to study the health effects of what was a remarkable natural experiment on the political and economic determinants of health.

By the mid-1990s, my work had extended into the former Soviet Union. These experiences introduced me to the health effects of rapid political, social, and economic transition. This was excellent preparation for my subsequent work studying the health effects of the global financial crisis from 2008 onwards. Now, my work goes all the way from pathology to political science. I’ve been fortunate to be able to study some of the big questions facing humanity. And my early work in the laboratory in Belfast was not wasted, as I returned to peptides in a study of alcohol induced myocardial damage in Russia. But this time it was only part of a much bigger question, which drew on economic, social geography, and health policy.”

About Martin McKee#

Martin McKee is Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). He qualified in medicine in Northern Ireland and later trained in public health in London. He is Research Director of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. He has published over 1,180 scientific papers and 46 books on health and health policy with a particular focus on countries undergoing political and social transition. He is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of London, Edinburgh, and Ireland. His contributions to European health policy have been recognised by election to the UK Academy of Medical Sciences, the US National Academy of Medicine and other academies. He was elected to the Academia Europaea in 2018.

Imprint Privacy policy « This page (revision-2) was last updated on Monday, 18. May 2020, 13:09 by Kaiser Dana
  • operated by