“Establishing a hub for health economics and health studies in Russia”: Interview with Christopher Gerry

On June 15 the new international laboratory, Centre for Health Economics, Management and Policy, was opened at HSE in St. Petersburg. The head of the laboratory Christopher Gerry tells us about the laboratory, its plans and prospects.

- Tell us about the research team of the laboratory?

This is a very exciting development for HSE St. Petersburg! The new health economics laboratory is known as CHEMP (Centre for Health Economics, Management and Policy) and is already active through social media (@chemp_hse on twitter) and will soon be launching a website with a regular policy blog – so watch this space! 

Our team is a genuinely international, multidisciplinary team incorporating exciting health specialists at the start of their careers as well as those with decades of experience operating on the global stage. We have a strong Russian core, complemented by brilliant scholars from Germany, UK, Sweden, Greece and the United States. We have economists, sociologists, epidemiologists and political scientists from some of the leading international institutions and will build an exciting set of affiliate CHEMP members from across the globe. We also have a first-class management team at CHEMP that will ensure we achieve our ambitions.

The International advisor for CHEMP is Professor Paul Kind. A world-leading specialist in Health Outcome Measurement, he has over 3 decades of experience in developing and applying methods designed to measure health status in both clinical and economic evaluation. He is a founder member and past-President of the EuroQoL Group, a multinational research cooperative responsible for the development of EQ-5D, and currently serves as a member of its Scientific Executive. This is a vital area of expertise, which Russia currently lacks.

There is much more to us than this though! Our website will include profiles of all of the members of CHEMP and hopefully we can come back with a follow-up interview as and when CHEMP is more practically launched!


- What is the main goal of the laboratory?

The main goal of CHEMP is to develop a sustainable international profile in Health Economics and to continue to promote the vital (but very new) science of health economics in Russia.Our programme of activity will address issues which affect the health and well-being of individuals, families, communities, populations and societies and will produce advances to knowledge, policy relevant findings and training in the theory and method of health economics, for both practitioners and scholars. 
Ultimately, we want CHEMP to become an established hub for health economics and health studies in Russia, while also achieving international recognition through its research activities, training programmes and other outputs. It is ambitious but we are confident that we can deliver.


- Please describe your plans for the fall 2015?

In the next few months we will work fiendishly to establish the essential infrastructure for CHEMP (website, social media, offices etc), to recruit postgraduate and undergraduate students to contribute to the work of the Centre, to start work in our 5 main work themes and to hold two launch events. One internal event based largely around student recruitment, on September 2, and a more outward looking event on October 29/30 involving the majority of our members.


- What are the five main research themes which you refer to?

We will be developing multidisciplinary, policy relevant and internationally oriented work in these 5 important domains: (i) Health Outcome Measurement; (ii) Economics of Health Behaviours, Reforms and Policy; (iii) Chronic diseases in Russia; (iv) Economics of Ageing; and (v) Mental Health.


- How do you plan to cooperate with the other HSE campuses (joint conferences, seminars, research projects, grant applications)?

We are of course very keen to cooperate with the other HSE campuses. There are a number of faculty from the Moscow campus involved in CHEMP research from the start and one of our priorities is to develop joint research grant applications, joint events, and possibly joint educational programmes, with colleagues from our partner campuses. This is a particularly appealing and important dimension of CHEMP.   


- How do you see the prospects of the laboratory?

Health economics is a very new area in Russia, but there are important pockets in Moscow, St. Petersburg and in Ekaterinburg. We believe that CHEMP offers a unique opportunity to unite and internationalize this emerging body of education and research and in particular to seek to integrate it within the public health sector, in the way that it now increasingly is in Europe and North America.

If we can begin to achieve some of our goals, then our research can contribute to the international health economics literature; our educational initiatives can help modernize training in health economics; our multidisciplinary approach can seek to integrate economics, social science and epidemiological approaches with those of the medical sphere; and our social media and knowledge exchange programmes can ensure that we impact on policy making and on people’s lives.