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Archaeology and History

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Dr Lu Chen

Postdoctoral Research Fellow


I am a historian of medicine specialising in politics and political economy of global health; international and global health programmes.

My research focuses on vaccination programmes, infectious disease control, global health governance, health diplomacy, and governmental organisations, particularly the United Nations and its specialised agencies, such as the WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, FAO, IAEA, and World Bank. My work has been sponsored by multiple grants from the Wellcome Trust, Brocher Foundation, and the Consortium of History of Science, Technology and Medicine. 

After receiving my PhD in 2022 from the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Global Health Histories at the University of York, I joined the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health at the University of Exeter, working on 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 ( 

My first monograph, From Absence to Influence: the WHO and China in Global Health (2025), presents a historical analysis of the evolving relationship between China and the WHO, from its disconnection and absence to the reconciliation, resistance, and selective engagement in the latter half of the twentieth century. 

My second monograph, Socialism and Local Roots of Primary Health in China, India and Tanzania (2027), examines how socialism, with its diverse interpretations and applications, shaped the early practices of Primary Health Care in Asia and Africa, which ultimately influenced the global health agenda setting.

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