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Biographical entry Halvorsen, Jan Frederik (1935 - 2003)

FRCS 1988.

General surgeon


Jan Frederik Halvorsen was director of the department of surgery and professor of surgery at the University of Bergen, Norway. He graduated from the University of Bergen Medical School in 1960, becoming a general surgical specialist in 1968 with a special interest in intestinal surgery. He gained a PhD for his work on blood pressure within the liver. His first appointment was at Stavanger Hospital, followed by the Rikshopitalet in Oslo. He also worked at the United Nations Hospital in Gaza.

In 1964 he was appointed to Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, where he remained until illness forced his retirement in 2001. He moved through the department of pathology and the gynaecology clinic, but his main focus was surgery. He initially specialised in endocrine surgery, but eventually developed his interest in GI surgery, particularly the diagnosis and treatment of bowel disorders. He published over 100 papers on diseases of the GI tract. He took a sabbatical, spending time at St Mark’s Hospital, London.

He became professor of surgery at Bergen University and, as a result of his involvement with the Norwegian Medical Association, he was responsible for the coordination of postgraduate studies. His door was always open to students and colleagues. The organisation of training and the decentralising of courses were a demanding project. He organised the coordination of 1,100 courses involving 25,000 participants.

In 1992 he was chosen to coordinate university exchanges between the Hanseatic towns of Lubeck in Germany and Bergen. His enormous experience, knowledge, friendly amiability and dynamism helped him to establish important international contacts and successful exchanges. He was a generous man and established great and permanent friendships with both the students and the specialists in both these cities.

He also organised many visits of groups of surgeons from other countries, including the UK. He was a great communicator and spoke impeccable English. He was extremely interested in English literature. He belonged to a British surgical travelling club and was one of its most enthusiastic members. Even when he was suffering from serious cardiac problems he determinedly joined the group on a visit to Spain. In 1988 he was made an honorary Fellow of the College. This particular honour he cherished more than the other many honours he received.

Jan Frederik Halvorsen was an extremely skilled surgeon, with vast theoretical knowledge and practical experience. In addition to the qualities he showed as a surgeon, his organisational skills in health management were used to great effect in improving postgraduate education in Norway. Patients and doctors benefited from these attributes. He left a great legacy.

He was a strong family man. He leaves his wife Sissel and four children.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England