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Biographical entry Tjandra, Joe Janwar (1957 - 2007)

MRCS and FRCS 1986; MB BS Melbourne 1981; MD 1989; FRCS Glasgow 1985; LRCP 1986; FRACS 1989; FASCRS 1999.

5 February 1957
Palembang, Indonesia
18 June 2007
Colorectal surgeon


Joe Tjandra was a colorectal surgeon at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Royal Women's Hospital, and associate professor of surgery at the University of Melbourne. He was born in Palembang, Indonesia, to Hasan and Tini Tjandra, who were of Chinese origin. His father ran a small trading business. After primary school in Indonesia, Joe Tjandra was sent to Singapore, where he learnt English. He went on to Melbourne, Australia, to Mentone Grammar School, and then studied medicine at the University of Melbourne. He was house surgeon to Alan Cuthbertson and Gordon Clunie in the colorectal unit at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

He then went to the UK, where he trained under Les Hughes at Cardiff. He gained his FRCS in 1986. In 1987 he returned to Australia and carried out clinical research with Ian McKenzie at the Research Centre for Cancer and Transplantation at the University of Melbourne. They worked on monoclonal antibodies, hoping to target toxins specifically to cancer cells. Among the volunteers for his project was his old headmaster at Mentone. Tjandra was awarded his MD for this research and, in the following year, gained his FRACS while a surgical registrar in the colorectal unit. Tjandra then spent a year with John Wong in Hong Kong, after which he went to the Cleveland Clinic, USA, to work for two years with Victor Fazio. He then spent a further year with Les Hughes in Cardiff.

In 1993 he returned to Australia and was appointed colorectal surgeon to the Royal Melbourne Hospital and to the Royal Women's Hospital. In 2002 he was made an associate professor at the University of Melbourne and, three years later, coordinator of the Epworth Gastrointestinal Oncology Centre. He also established a large private practice.

He published over 150 scientific papers, wrote 70 chapters and edited six books. His Textbook of surgery (Malden, Mass/Oxford, Blackwell Scientific) is now in its third edition. He was frequently a visiting lecturer/professor, particularly in the Asian Pacific region, but also in the US and Europe. He was editor of ANZ Journal of Surgery for several years and was on the board of a number of international journals.

He died on 18 June 2007, aged just 50, following a ten-month battle with bowel cancer. He leaves a wife, Yvonne Pun, a rheumatologist, two sons (Douglas and Bradley) and a daughter (Caitlin).

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Yvonne Pun; The Age 27 August 2007; The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England