Wong, John

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BSc (Med) (Hons) 1964 MB BS (Hons) 1966 PhD 1971 MD honoris causa 1995 FRACS, FACS (Hon), FRCS (Hon)

John Wong has pioneered new techniques in oesophageal cancer which have been responsible for reducing the mortality from these procedures to near zero. In 1989 he was the Founding President of the University of Sydney Alumni Association of Hong Kong.

John Wong was born in 1941 and studied Medicine at the University of Sydney, graduating in 1966. He completed his residency at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where he also undertook surgical training, becoming an Assistant Clinical Superintendent (Surgical) in 1972. Two years later, he was appointed Honorary Surgeon at the Hospital. While at Prince Alfred, John also commenced postgraduate studies at the University of Sydney and was awarded a PhD in 1971 for his work in the area of cell proliferation and differentiation in the squamo-columnar junction of the rat stomach.

In 1974, John began work as a Lecturer in Surgery with the University of Sydney, but a year later, moved to Hong Kong to take up the same appointment at the University of Hong Kong. He originally intended to stay in Hong Kong for three months, but the volume and complexity of clinical work was so stimulating that he did not return to Prince Alfred. Instead, he took up general surgery in the broadest sense, over the years concentrating on oesophageal cancer surgery and developing new techniques which have reduced operation mortality in this area to near zero.

At the University of Hong Kong, he was promoted from Senior Lecturer in 1977 to Professor of Surgery in 1979, becoming Head of Department (which he remains today) in 1982. With John at the helm, his Department have pioneered surgical techniques in living donor liver transplantation, maxillary swing operation for NPC, and oesophageal surgery. Their mortality and morbidity rates following ultra-major operations are among the lowest in the world.

Soon after becoming Head of the Department, John was also appointed Honorary Consultant Surgeon at the Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong. He retained this position until accepting an appointment as Honorary Chief of Service in the Department of Surgery at the Hospital from 1993 to 2003.

Throughout his career, John has been a member of countless Faculty and University committees at the University of Hong Kong. From 1989 to 1991, he was also the Founding President of the University of Sydney Alumni Association of Hong Kong. He has also been a member of numerous professional societies, including as President of the Hong Kong Society of Gastroenterology (1986–88); the International Hepato-Biliary-Pancreatic Association (1987–88); the Hong Kong Chapter of the American College of Surgeons since 1995; the Asian Pacific Federation of Organisations for Cancer Research and Control (1996–98); the Asian Surgical Association (1996–98); the International Society for Digestive Surgery (1996–98); and of the Pan-Pacific Surgical Association since 2000. He was made an Honorary Fellow or Member of, amongst others, the following organisations: the American College of Surgeons, USA; the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, UK; the Association Française de Chirurgie, France; the European Surgical Society; and the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

John has twice received the John Loewenthal Medal from the University of Sydney, once in 1978 and again in 1994. In 2002, the Government of Hong Kong awarded John the Silver Bauhinia Star.

Citation: Mellor, Lise (2008) Wong, John. Faculty of Medicine Online Museum and Archive, University of Sydney.

An alternate version appears in: Mellor, L. 150 Years, 150 Firsts: The People of the Faculty of Medicine (2006) Sydney, Sydney University Press.