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Dr Santhanam was born in Chennai, India, and graduated from Medicine at Madras University in 1968 and migrated to Australia in 1972, trained at Royal Newcastle hospital, from June 72 till jan 1980, and was in Sydney Hospital, in 1980 and at St Marks for 6 months in 1988
After a short hon. fellowship in Sydney hospital, Dr Sahthanam started his private specialist practice in 1981, mostly colorectal and some general surgery.  
Dr Santhanam worked for many years at Belmont public hospital, and now works at Lake MacQuarie Private Hospital.

 Dr Santhanam visited and taught surgery in January 2017  at the Methodist Helena Goldie Hospital in Munda, and at the government Gizo Hospital in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. He also visited Taro hospital in the remote Choiseul province on a fact finding mission in January 2017.

Dr Santhanam plans to return to Honiara, Namuga & Kirakira hospital in November 2017.