From cardiovascular disease prevention to healthy ageing a (my) scientific journey - Oscar Franco - 20.09.2018

Podcasts from the «Bern Lectures in Health Science»

The 20th century witnessed the rise of noncommunicable disorders (NCDs) and the consolidation of cardiovascular disease (CVD) as the number one cause of morbidity and mortality globally. Despite great advances in understanding how CVD occurs and can be treated and prevented, still, in 2018, CVD remains on the top of disease and mortality burdens worldwide. The emergence of CVD and NCDs in general has resulted from improvements in living conditions, hygiene, sanitation, and healthcare, among others, that have contributed to substantial decreases in child and maternal mortality and to people living ever longer. This has led to widespread interest in ageing and healthy ageing. But how long can people live? What is ageing? What is healthy ageing? And how can we prevent CVD and NCDs? These questions have sparked, motivated, and challenged my career. Although I might not have answers to these questions, I will share my personal and quixotic attempts to find the answers.

Prof. Oscar H. Franco obtained his MD at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá in 1998. In 2001 he moved to the Netherlands to complete MSc and DSc degrees in clinical epidemiology and a PhD in public health and cardiovascular disease prevention (2005) at the Erasmus University Medical Center. Following a postdoc at Erasmus MC, he moved to the UK where he was a senior public health epidemiologist at Unilever England, assistant professor of public health at the University of Warwick, and then director of the MPhil program and clinical lecturer in public health at the University of Cambridge. In 2012 Prof. Franco returned to ErasmusMC where he worked as professor of preventive medicine and the principal investigator of the cardiovascular epidemiology group. He also founded and directed the Rotterdam Intergenerational Ageing Research Center, ErasmusAGE (, and he was cofounder and CEO of Erasmus Epidemiology Resources ( Since June 2018 Oscar has been appointed as director of the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM) at the University of Bern. A fellow of, inter alia, the European Society of Cardiology and St Edmunds’ College at the University of Cambridge, Prof. Franco was awarded the Dutch national public health prize of 2005. Prof. Franco is widely published with well over 500 publications and a H-index of 69.