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Dr Lu Chen

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

I am a historian of medicine. My research interests focus on modern and contemporary history of international and global health programmes; politics and political economy of international and global health. My work engages with studies in global health, medical anthropology, sociological and political science. I am particularly interested in studying the engagement of global south in global health governance and activities in the recent past and present. I received my phd in 2022 from the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Global Health Histories at the University of York. My PhD project “China in the Worldwide Eradication of Smallpox, 1949-1980: Recovering and Democratizing Histories of International Health” was funded by the Wellcome Trust.


I joined the University of Exeter in October 2021 for the the Wellcome Trust funded project “Connecting Three Worlds: Socialism, Medicine and Global Health After World War II” led by Dora Vargha, Sarah Marks, and Edna Suarez-Diaz ( As part of the “Connecting Three Worlds” team, I’m working on the international linkage of the conceptualisation and transformation of Chinese primary health care, and the influence of the Chinese socialist public health in third world countries during and after the cold war. I am interested in studying the conceptual and practical complexities of the Chinese primary health care on the global, regional, international, national, and local levels by looking at different strands of socialisms in Asia and Africa, which created political divergences that impacted on ideas of health and well-being, state management of the sphere of human existence and the space given to communities being served in relation to decision-making. I aim to bring in novelty in thought and writing to the project to increase understanding of the impact of socialist internationalism in co-producing global health in the 20th century from the lens of East Asia.

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