Dr Don Eliseo Lucero-Prisno III is an Associate Professor of Public Health at the Department of Public Health of Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU). Before joining XJTLU, he was with the Master of Public Health (MPH) Programme of the Department of Public Health and Policy of the University of Liverpool (UoL) in the UK since 2009 where he remains as Honorary Lecturer of Public Health until the present. He is also affiliated with the Faculty of Management and Development Studies of the University of the Philippines (Open University) as Senior Lecturer in International Health, a Research Fellow of Medical Research in International Health of the Centre for International Health of the Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) in Munich, Germany and a Research Associate Fellow of Cardiff University in Wales. Don has published in the fields of global health and public health in scientific journals and has authored five book chapters. He is a member of many international organizations, working groups and committees. He is a sough-after speaker and has been invited to deliver presentations in numerous conferences, meetings, trainings and guest lectures all over the world. He is a global leader in empowering individuals to become critical thinkers and leaders in global health through his popular global health courses that have been delivered in many parts of Asia, Africa and Europe. His work has been recognised through a number of international awards including the prestigious Global Health Promotion Practice Award by the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and The Outstanding Young Man (TOYM) in Global Health by the President of the Philippines.
Can you briefly describe your research interests?
I am in the fields of global health and public health. I am particularly interested in health systems and policy and the social determinants of health particularly access of marginalized and poor populations.
What made you decide to do research in this field?
It is based on what I went through in life. Coming from a very poor background, it made me think how people who do not have resources and opportunities have the same access as those who have. The dynamics that surround this phenomenon is an interesting field for me--from the global determinants to the immediate ones. It was incumbent upon me to understand and investigate and find the answers and solutions.
Would you recommend research/research degrees and why?
I would highly recommend having research degrees as they provide a solid and strong foundation to any field of study and inquiry. One gets to have a better understanding of the approaches and how they innovate these approaches to have a better way of producing evidence. Of course having a degree is just a start. Using them continuously makes one a seasoned researcher.
Can you briefly describe your journey to your current position in research?
While I was in my bachelor days, I already had an inkling to get into research as it fascinated me. It started with my bachelor days when we had research methods modules and actual research plans and projects. The numbers we played around with was a fascinating stuff to answer unique problems. As I went through my MD I did research electives. I even worked for a research center in the middle of my medical school. And every time I study masters, of which I have two (MPH and MSc) I was always fascinated with reading research articles. So I try to hone myself with methods by doing a diploma in research methods. Obviously the PhD is the ultimate degree which made me become an independent researcher. Until I got to develop many linkages and many awards, which made me feel confident and fulfilled with what I am doing.
What advice would you have for Filipinos embarking or thinking of embarking on a career in research?
To be able to produce evidence that would translate to policy and practice is a noble and fulfilling career as it impacts lives of people. There are many opportunities that would lead one to while doing research. This is what many people do not understand. Thus Filipinos should start embracing this endeavor by providing themselves with the proper mindset and skills. The rest will follow.
What are the principal differences between research in the UK/China and the Philippines with respect to opportunity?
Funding is a major factor in any research environment. As there are more research funding opportunities in the UK and China, research thrives better in these environments. In the developing world like the Philippines this is a major challenge. Thus we do not see many researchers. A proper and effective national framework should be in place to enable research strengthening. These are in different fronts--policy, funding, institutions, education, and incentives to name a few.
Two of PILAR's goals are to a) raise awareness of the research culture in places like the UK and the resulting benefits; and b) provide Filipinos with opportunities to do research. What kind of initiatives would incentivise you to stay in the Philippines and have a research career there?
There are many reasons to stay in the Philippines to work in the field of research as it is rife with many determinants of health. I work more in the developing world which is the central in the study of public health and global health. Strong international collaborations will not isolate researchers from the developing world such as the Philippines thus a good approach to keep them in their countries. Research funding and better incentives such as salaries would be another approach. This would include recognition. Research appreciation should start at the grassroots level and from a young age.