Oscar H. Franco was a member of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit and clinical lecturer at the Institute of Public Health. He is now the Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam.
He began his training and his medical career in Colombia where he completed his MD. He said: ’In Colombia many people cannot afford basic medical and health care, because services are not sufficient and public health policies are not robust enough. So my interest in public health grew. The reason I went down this route is that public health can generate changes that will improve health in many people – so the work matters.’
Following a move to the Netherlands, Oscar completed an MSc and a DSc in Clinical Epidemiology together with a PhD and a post-doc in cardiovascular disease prevention and public health at Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He then moved to the UK where he worked for Unilever as senior public health epidemiologist, for the University of Warwick as assistant professor in public health and for the University of Cambridge as clinical lecturer in public health in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care. Also in the UK he completed his clinical training in public health.
While at Cambridge, Oscar built lasting connections and collaborations. He said: ‘There was an interactive atmosphere of discussion – everyone was willing to share their opinions. So, when I gave lectures, we would discuss the ideas. Colleagues at the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit would discuss their work. In this way we generated new ideas’.
Oscar’s 2011 chocolate study, which provided the popular conclusion that eating chocolate regularly could cut your cardiovascular risk by about one third, was a high profile example of cross-disciplinary team work that involved colleagues here at Cambridge – see more about this study.
Oscar is now Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Erasmus MC, Department of Epidemiology, where he’s also the PI of the cardiovascular epidemiology group. He is the Director of ErasmusAGE; a new intergenerational ageing research centre looking at the impact of lifestyle on ageing across the life course. He described the international nature of his groups: ‘There are 55 to 60 people from many different nationalities and this multi-national atmosphere is very exciting. This is something I also experienced at the IPH. You would meet colleagues and students from Bangladesh, China and Italy – all young and willing to work to make a difference via public health’.
Find out more about Oscar and his work here .