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Observations BMJ Confidential

Chris and Xand van Tulleken: Sibling revelry

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 03 October 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k3954
Duncan Smith


The van Tulleken twins, 40, appear regularly on television, either separately or together, in a wide range of programmes ranging from silly/serious to seriously silly. Both went to King’s College School in Wimbledon and then Oxford University, and both studied tropical medicine. Chris did a molecular biology PhD at the Towers Lab at University College London and is now an infectious diseases registrar at University College Hospital. Xand got a Fulbright scholarship to Harvard, did a masters of public health, and now teaches and writes in London. Together they present the children’s programme Operation Ouch and travelled the world to make Medicine Men Go Wild, an examination of tribal medicine. A double gift to television producers, they contrive to make the best of the medium.

What was your earliest ambition?

Xand: Becoming doctors was our first serious ambition that we thought might be achievable. We wanted to see as much of the world as possible to try to understand it and, in some naive way, make it a better place. Medicine seemed like something that might help us do that.

Chris: Xand also wanted to be the lead singer of Guns N’ Roses, and I’m still very supportive of this.

What was your best career move?

Xand: I did the diploma in tropical medicine at Liverpool and then travelled to Darfur with Doctors of the World. The clinical work was extremely challenging, but it also forced me to look more at the determinants of health and at complicity in abuse. Much of what I now …

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