Charlie Teo

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Charlie Teo

Charles Teo.jpg
Teo (foreground, left) in 2018
Charles Teo

(1957-12-24) 24 December 1957 (age 65)
EducationThe Scots College
Alma materUniversity of New South Wales
Years active1981–present
Genevieve Teo (née Agnew)
(sep 2018)
PartnerTraci Griffiths

Charles Teo AM[1] (Chinese: 张正贤; born 24 December 1957)[2] is an Australian neurosurgeon.

Early life and education[edit]

Teo was born to Chinese-Singaporean parents who immigrated to Australia. He attended The Scots College and the University of New South Wales, graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery in 1981.[3][4][5][6]


Charlie Teo started in general neurosurgery at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital before moving to the United States.[7][8] He completed a fellowship in Dallas, Texas, where he became the only Australian neurosurgeon certified by a US medical board.[7][6][9] Teo spent almost ten years in the United States where he was an Associate Professor of Neurosurgery and Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the Arkansas Children's Hospital.[7][10][11]

Upon his return to Australia, he was self-appointed as the director of the Centre for Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery which he established at the Prince of Wales Hospital,[3] and is the founder of Cure Brain Cancer Foundation (formerly Cure For Life Foundation),[3] and the founder of the Charlie Teo Foundation.[12]

Over the course of his career, Teo developed an international reputation in the field of minimally-invasive (or ‘keyhole’) neurosurgery.[13][7] Teo has been an invited speaker and visiting professor in more than thirty-five countries, associated with institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, Albert Einstein University, Marburg University and the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.[7][6][12] Teo has written more than thirty book chapters and numerous scholarly papers. While still teaching regularly in the US, he also teaches and sponsors the education of neurosurgeons from developing countries, including Peru, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Romania; and he treats children from developing countries with neurological conditions.[14][15]

Notable patients of Teo include Jane McGrath,[16] Dr Chris O'Brien,[17] and Stan Zemanek.[18] Author Susan Wyndham detailed a story about Teo and the pianist Aaron McMillan, a patient, in her biography, Life in his Hands.[19] Sally White, a patient of Teo's, wrote of her experiences in Three Quotes From A Plumber: How a Second Opinion Changed the Life of a Woman with a Brain Tumour.[20][21] Teo was featured in several TV programs including the ABC's Q&A, Good Medicine, 60 Minutes,[22][23] Last Chance Surgery, Australian Story,[24][25][26][27][28] Enough Rope[29] and Anh's Brush with Fame.[30] The 'Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Australian' was an annual trust survey, where participants rated their level of trust of a high-profile Australian out of 10.[31] Teo appeared first or in the Top 5 for several years; and was rated most trusted Australian in 2012, 2013, and 2014.[32][33][34]

In 2011, Teo was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for service to medicine as a neurosurgeon through the introduction of minimally invasive techniques, as a researcher, educator and mentor, and through the establishment of the Cure for Life Foundation.[35][36][37] Teo gave the 50th Anniversary Errol Solomon Meyers Memorial Lecture at the University of Queensland in August 2007.[38] Teo gave the 2012 Australia Day speech on 23 January 2012.[39]

Some elements of the media[22][40] have claimed Teo has worked miracles.[41][42] In May 2019, controversy arose when a prominent urologist, Professor Henry Woo, commented on the large number of GoFundMe campaigns requesting considerable sums of money for patients to have surgery done by Teo, when Australia's public health system should be performing any required surgery in the public system. Professor Woo also questioned the absence of peer reviewed evidence that Teo’s operative approach was beneficial to patients with incurable brain cancer. [43][44][45] In 2021 the NSW Medical Council conducted a special hearing into Teo's behaviours during surgical procedures;[46] and, following investigation, was prevented from performing any "recurrent malignant intracranial tumour and brain stem tumour surgical procedures" unless he obtained written approval from an independent neurosurgeon, as approved by the NSW Medical Council.[47] As of August 2021, Teo was also under investigation by the Health Care Complaints Commission.[47] After a lengthy investigation by the Commission, Teo was due to appear for a disciplinary hearing in September 2022.[48]

In 2022, it was reported that Teo is performing surgeries in Spain, which is beyond the regulatory powers of the NSW Medical Council.[49] On 23 October 2022, a Sydney Morning Herald article described how Teo charged families extraordinary amounts of money and gave hope for a cure for ultimately futile operations that have catastrophically injured his patients. The article discussed two cases of operations on children with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), an inoperable tumour, which, despite Teo's reassurance to their families that these surgeries could cure DIPG, did not provide a cure.[48] In an interview on A Current Affair, Teo sought to justify his interventions.[50] In a Podcast with Mark Bouris, Teo would claim that the accusations being leveled against him are from business rivals and personal enemies.[51] During the hearing, it was reported that Teo slapped a patient who was unconscious in front of the patients family. Teo's conduct has been criticised by other neurosurgeons.[52]

Personal life[edit]

Teo was married to Genevieve Teo (née Agnew); the couple have four daughters.[3] They separated in 2018. Teo is engaged to former international model, Traci Griffiths.[53] Traci Griffiths was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2011. Teo was her treating surgeon.[54]

Since 2009, Teo has been a council member for Australian animal welfare group Voiceless.[55]


  1. ^ "Teo, Charles". Search Australian Honours. Australian Government. Archived from the original on 4 November 2016. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  2. ^ Who's Who in Australia, ConnectWeb.
  3. ^ a b c d "Life in his hands". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 March 2003.
  4. ^ "UNSW Spotlight: Charlie Teo". Arc UNSW Student Life. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  5. ^ "Dr Charlie Teo". UNSW Newsroom. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  6. ^ a b c "Charles Teo, 2012". National Portrait Gallery collection. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e Wyndham, Susan (5 September 2019). "From the Archives, 2007: What drove Charlie Teo, the country's most controversial brain surgeon?". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Dr. Charlie Teo, a resident Neurosurgeon at Royal Prince Alfred..." Getty Images. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Controversial neurosurgery: Interview with Charlie Teo". Neuro Central. 12 July 2016. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Why brain cancer is no match for neurosurgeon Charlie Teo". Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  11. ^ "Dr Teo's Australia Day address". 23 January 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  12. ^ a b Doreian, Robyn (13 April 2018). "Charlie Teo: The lessons my mother and daughters have taught me". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  13. ^ Blackmores. "Keeping an open mind towards complementary medicines: Dr Charlie Teo". Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  14. ^ "Lunch with Charlie Teo". Australian Financial Review. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  15. ^ "Dr Charlie Teo". Q&A. 20 December 2018. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  16. ^ "Jane McGrath had 'amazing smile, attitude', says Dr Charles Teo". The Daily Telegraph. Australia. 23 June 2008. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
  17. ^ Chris O'Brien's autobiography "Never Say Die" Archived 11 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Leech, Graeme (12 July 2007). "Obituary: Stan Zemanek". The Australian. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
  19. ^ Swan, Norman (5 April 2008). "Life in his Hands Susan Wyndham". The Australian. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  20. ^ White, Sally. "Three Quotes From a Plumber". Sally White. Archived from the original on 11 December 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  21. ^ "Three Quotes From A Plumber > Book Review". Archived from the original on 22 August 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  22. ^ a b "The outsider". 60 Minutes. Australia. 27 May 2007. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  23. ^ "Never say die". 60 Minutes. Australia. 29 April 2007. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  24. ^ "The Trouble with Charlie". Australian Story. Australia: ABC. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  25. ^ "His Hour Upon the Stage". Australian Story. Australia: ABC. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  26. ^ "Dzung's Anatomy". Australian Story. Australia: ABC. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  27. ^ "Playing for Time". Australian Story. Australia: ABC. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  28. ^ "To the Test & A Small World". Australian Story. Australia: ABC. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  29. ^ "ENOUGH ROPE with Andrew Denton – episode 185: Dr Charlie Teo (15/09/2008)". Enough Rope. Australia: ABC. 15 September 2008. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  30. ^ "Anh's Brush with Fame - TV Episode Calendar".
  31. ^ Tay, Liz (21 June 2013). "Surprising Facts About Australia's 10 Most Trusted People". Business Insider Australia. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  32. ^ "Australia's most trusted people". The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 June 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  33. ^ "Reader's Digest Australia Trusted People 2014 survey results". NewsComAu. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  34. ^ Anderson, Stephanie (18 June 2013). "Rudd and Turnbull top trust poll". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  35. ^ "Brain surgeon, Ex-mayor among NSW honours". ABC News. Australia. 25 January 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  36. ^ "It's an honour". UNSW Newsroom (Press release). UNSW Sydney. 28 January 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  37. ^ Teo, Charlie. Australia Day 2020 - Australia Day Address 2012 by Associate Professor Charlie Teo AM (Speech). NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  38. ^ Teo, Charlie (August 2007). University of Queensland Medical Society – 2007 E.S. Meyers Memorial Lecture (Speech). University of Queensland Medical Society. Archived from the original on 21 November 2007. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  39. ^ Teo, Charlie (23 January 2012). Australia Day 2012 Address: Full Speech (Speech). The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  40. ^ "The Trouble with Charlie". Australian Story. Australia: ABC Television. 26 August 2003. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  41. ^ "'Miracle worker': Patient backs surgeon Charlie Teo in debate over medical fees". ABC News. Australia. 29 May 2019. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  42. ^ "Cancer patient of Charlie Teo to go overseas for further treatment". 19 June 2019. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  43. ^ McClymont, Kate (5 September 2019). "Brilliant, adored, flawed: Dr Charlie Teo unmasked". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  44. ^ "Harrowing and humbling: surgeon in the eye of a social media storm speaks out". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 June 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  45. ^ McClymont, Kate (28 August 2021). "Charlie Teo settled claim for operating on wrong side of Sydney woman's brain". The Age. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  46. ^ McClymont, Kate (19 August 2021). "Controversial brain surgeon Charlie Teo faces uncertain future". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  47. ^ a b McClymont, Kate (24 August 2021). "Neurosurgeon Charlie Teo slapped with restrictions after urgent hearing". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  48. ^ a b McClymont, Kate; Dikeos, Thea (23 October 2022). "Charlie Teo, the profit of hope: how neurosurgeon left families with a terrible price to pay". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  49. ^ Juanola, Jackson Graham, Marta Pascual (12 August 2022). "Restricted Australian neurosurgeon Charlie Teo performing surgery in Spain". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 August 2022.
  50. ^ McClymont, Kate (25 October 2022). "'I'm not sorry that I operated': Charlie Teo defends surgeries, apologises for outcomes". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 October 2022.
  51. ^ McClymont, Kate (12 February 2023). "Enemies jealous of my 'superior skills': Charlie Teo hits out ahead of hearing". The Age. Retrieved 12 February 2023.
  52. ^ McClymont, Kate (15 February 2023). "Charlie Teo slapped unconscious patient across face in front of family, inquiry hears". The Age. Retrieved 15 February 2023.
  53. ^ Hornery, Andrew (9 October 2020). "The glamorous blonde in brain surgeon Charlie Teo's life". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  54. ^ Ellis, Greg (16 January 2016). "Brain cancer survivor and international model Traci Griffiths devotes life to animals". Illawarra Mercury.
  55. ^ "Home". Voiceless. Doctors may not have direct responsibility for the injustices of modern agriculture but we do have the power to help overcome them. We hold a privileged role in society; we are trusted as scientific minds and reliable carers. Our communities will listen when we explain the illness and suffering that lies hidden behind the closed doors of factory farms.

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