Senior Fellows Q&A: Dr Christrijogo Sumartono

Dr Christrijogo Sumartono is a lecturer and anaesthetist at Universitas Airlangga and the Head of Ksatria Medika Airlangga Foundation which carries out humanitarian outreach work.


Below, he explains a bit about his background and how he ended up where he is today.

Describe how/why you first became interested in your research field.

I am interested in this research because I want to find answers and solutions to problems that we often face in the field. When I was on duty as a doctor, many problems had to be solved by conducting deeper research about treatment failures in the community.

Are there other researchers in your family? Do you remember when you first encountered the idea of scientific investigation?

In my family there is a researcher, specifically in traffic policy. He is a lecturer in urban design (planology). My first research was about peripheral nerve cell damage due to trauma/injury. We tried to find a novel treatment because we were dissatisfied with the main treatment (stitching). I tried to use stem cells that I took from the skin, which of course many disagree with because the skin used comes from preputium (the circumcised tip of the penis, for Muslims).

What do you like about your university? Name a past colleague or teacher there who inspired you in your work, and explain how.

I like working at Universitas Airlangga because it opens up opportunities for me to explore all my ideas. I have a lot of teachers, such as a professor in Anesthesia, a professor in Biomolecular Science (ITD / Institute for Tropical Diseases), a professor in graduate school, etc., all of whom spurred me to multitask between areas and readied me for the field.

Where are you from? What is it like there? If you could export one aspect of life from there to the world, what would it be?

I come from a small town Jombang in East Java, but I was born in the city of Martapura, South Kalimantan and grew up in Surabaya, East Java. After working in the city of Jambi in Sumatra, I was sent to Ternate, North Maluku as an anesthetist. These experiences have coloured my work. Indonesia is vast and Indonesian ethnicities are numerous and must be respected, because without them there is no word “nusantara”. Coordinating with friends in Sumatra is different from friends from eastern Indonesia. Indonesia is not only Java, but also Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Papua, Bali and so on. It is the archipelago.



If you could implement one new policy there, guaranteed to succeed, what would it be?

To implement a new policy, we must look for the root of problems. It might originate from the top down (central government policy), or bottom up policy (indeed the hope of the people), because both of them differ in their implementation or treatment. For policies originating from the top, socialisation and assimilation is needed to be sustainable. If the policy comes from the bottom, it is usually easier to succeed as it is desired by the community.

PAIR looks at the impact of new transport infrastructure. Can you recall the arrival of any major new infrastructure in your life or community? Do you recall its impact?

The development of new transportation infrastructure is indeed very necessary. This will accelerate the chain of economic activity in the region because waiting for socio-economic development usually takes years.

The [negative] impacts of these changes are also clear, because the acceleration process is not normally adapted to natural processes. The impact of infrastructure development can cause natural disasters such as floods, changes in the pattern of diseases of young children, and the vulnerability of pregnant women and children at risk.

Where do you go and what do you do for a relaxing weekend?

I enjoy life in balance, there is no special entertainment. Usually in between my busy commitments, I always run to worship God Almighty, because without His blessings, I could not help others, serve and live a normal life. I also enjoy cycling, swimming, reading and so on.

Do you have a party trick, super power or signature dish that you cook?

I have no special talent, but I am versatile. I can dance and sing because I studied around the archipelago. I like eating all types of food from around the archipelago.

Could you recommend a book that everyone should read, and why?

Al Qur’an. Very universal.