An image of Chris van Tulleken
An image of Chris van Tulleken
Xand Chris

Chris Van Tulleken

Dr. Chris van Tulleken is an infectious diseases doctor at UCLH, one of the BBC’s leading science presenters and a New York Times bestselling author.

During the pandemic, Chris shared his own personal experience of COVID19 in the BBC One documentary Surviving the Virus: My Brother & Me. He also hosted the two Horizon Cornavirus specials for BBC Two. In 2023, Chris published Ultra Processed People, an exposé on food industry. It became an international bestseller.

In summer 2021, Chris and Xand launched their first podcast, A Thorough Examination with Drs Chris and Xand and reached the top spot across a variety of podcast charts. The audio series sees Chris send Xand on a journey to explore his relationship with ultra-processed food. Xand meets the world’s leading experts on food, weight, taste and addiction whilst going on a UPF binge in a bid to see if he can learn to hate it. Series 2 launched in 2022 and focused on  if people can change and how they do it.

In 2019, Chris alongside his twin brother Xand, put competing health theories to the test with the help of 30 other pairs of identical twins in 'Twinsitute' for BBC Two. The pair also hosted 'Planet Child' a ‘landmark perspective on global childhood development' for ITV.

Chris’ concerns about antibiotic resistance  and over-reliance on prescription drugs led him to create a campaigning series for BBC One in 2017; ‘The Dr Who Gave up Drugs’, which generated a huge volume of letters and emails, having struck a chord with the nation. In 2018, he turned the focus of the topic to children with the second series, which received rave reviews.

Following on from the success of ‘The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs’, Chris investigated the impact ultra-processed foods has on our children, in ‘What Are We Feeding Our Kids?’ for BBC One.

Another highlight of 2017, was Chris’ BBC1 film The Truth About...HIV - a programme supported by HRH Prince Harry, and Sir Elton John.

Operation Ouch, Chris and Xand’s double BAFTA & Broadcast award-winning series for CBBC, continues to delight audiences around the world, with Series 12 being filmed in 2023. Throughout the series, the twins create fun and often disgusting experiments to help kids learn how the human body works. The programme results in fan mail from around the world from a young audience who want to know, above all, what they need to do to become doctors. Their second Operation Ouch tour of Australia this January was a huge hit and they hope to bring the fun to their British fans with a tour in 2018.

Chris and Xand’s programmes are often shaped by their readiness and ability to self-experiment and test out theories on one another (as clones, they are the ideal test and control) – whether changing their diets, exposing themselves to environmental extremes of heat, cold, sleeplessness, pain (sticking spikes through their faces and sticking cameras down their noses), Chris learns and informs his audience by becoming a patient himself.

Jointly, Chris and Xand have published two books - Operation Ouch! The HuMaual - a book all about human biology for children; and Secrets of the Human Body which accompanied aground-breaking BBC2 Science series.

Chris and Xand have also performed Operation Ouch Live to sold-out audiences in London's West End and toured Australia. 

Chris and Xand grew up in London and both trained in medicine at Oxford University, specialising in infectious disease and tropical medicine. Chris is currently an Associate Professor in the division of Infection and Immunity at UCL. He has worked as a doctor in some of the harshest and strangest environments on earth and trained the Army in survival. Chris’s expedition series Operation Iceberg for BBC Two saw a group of scientists adventure into the arctic exploring the formation and life of icebergs, whilst Chris and Xand’s debut series on Channel 4 Medicine Men Go Wild, (2008) saw them travel to remote locations such as Congo and South Georgia, in a hugely adventurous journey that sought to explore the limitations of Western Medicine.

In 2016 Chris won the Max Perutz award at the Royal Institution for his HIV research.

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Noteable Work

  • Operation Ouch!, CBBC & iPlayer, 2012 onwards
  • A Thorough Examination with Chris and Xand van Tulleken, BBC Radio 4 & BBC Sounds, 2021 onwards
  • Surviving the Virus: My Brother & Me, BBC One, 2020
  • What Are We Feeding Our Kids?, BBC One, 2021
  • Horizon: Coronavirus Special - What We Know Now, BBC Two, 2020
  • The Jump, BBC Radio 4, 2021