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5 Minutes with Australian Neurosurgeon Charlie Teo

By Jordan Pearson

Charlie Teo’s familiar face and name is known in households across the globe as the famous Australian miracle worker who operates on patients deemed inoperable by other Neurosurgeons.

This year Charlie is running The Sun-Herald City2Surf presented by Westpac in Team Charlie to raise funds for the Charlie Teo Foundation. Read on to learn about why Charlie became a Neurosurgeon, how he exercises his own brain and what he would name his guinea pig.

Charlie Teo will run with Team Charlie in the 2018 City2Surf. Image supplied.

Charlie Teo will run with Team Charlie in the 2018 City2Surf. Image supplied.


Hi Charlie, if you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?


How would your wife, Genevieve, describe you?

“He’s not the messiah….he’s just a very naughty boy.”

Do you ever wonder what your own brain looks like or do they all look the same?

I’m afraid to find out...

How do you exercise your brain?

Learning more about brain cancer and the many various theories behind why the answer evades us.

Why did you become a neurosurgeon?

Neurosurgery is the most challenging of all the surgical specialties….hands down. It is physically and emotionally taxing, it is unforgiving and it demands 100% concentration and focus.

Do you think there is a connection between brain health and mental health?

Yes. Indeed, there are some diseases of the brain that results in mental disorders such as lack of empathy, extreme indifference, mood disorders etc.

Think back to your primary school days - if I asked you back then what you wanted to be when you grew up what would you say?

Movie star!

You have four daughters, if there is one piece of advice that you would want them to carry through life what would it be?

It is better to give than receive.

If you had a pet Guinea Pig what would you name him/her?


City2Surf is the world’s largest fun run and an iconic Australian event, what do you love about it?

….being at the back of the pack where there is a great sense of comradery, no-one taking it too seriously and everyone bonding against the common enemy “heartbreak hill”.

Charlie training with his best friend. Image supplied.

Charlie training with his best friend. Image supplied.


With exercise playing such an important role in a healthy lifestyle, what is your exercise routine? And how will you be preparing for City2Surf?  

I was forced to walk to work a few years ago, having lost my licence for speeding….it was the silver lining. I continue the practice despite having my licence re-issued. I also try to get on to Sydney Harbour at least once a week to paddle my kayak, swim a few laps when staying in hotels, do a few sit-ups and push-ups every morning and walk the dogs as much as possible. With that exercise regimen, I don’t need to prepare for the City2Surf because it is not uncommon for me to walk over 14 kms at any one time.

We often hear the saying, you are what you eat! What are your thoughts on this?

Unequivocally!!!! Scientists have now proven this to be the case. Indeed, it has been shown that if you regularly eat a particular food type, such as rice, that rice DNA is “incorporated” into your DNA. I can’t help but think that the consumption of meat from animals who have been treated unkindly and cruelly is in some way responsible for the dramatic increase in depression that we have witnessed in the developed nations.

With Team Charlie running again in this year's City2Surf, will you be taking first place in the team?

Definitely not….I’ll be chilling at the back of the pack….leave the running to those fitter and younger than oneself.

Rapid fire questions:

Who inspires you and why?

My patients. Amazing courage.

Cats or dogs?


Charlie and his four legged friends. Image supplied.

Charlie and his four legged friends. Image supplied.


Sweet or savoury?


How do you relax after a hard day at work?


What is something you think everyone should do once in their lives?

Visit an abattoir...you’ll never eat meat or dairy again.

‘What is your guilty pleasure?

Riding my Aprillia RSV4 at high speed.

Help Team Charlie reach their fundraising goal of $100,000 to find a cure for brain cancer!

Enter before next Tuesday (July 24) to save $10!