Professor John McNeil AO
Recipient of Distinguished Alumni Award 2022, Professor John McNeil AO is a tenured public health researcher with specialist training in epidemiology and clinical pharmacology. His contributions to medical research have changed the way we think about chronic disease, preventative health, and healthcare quality.
Motivated by the challenge of deriving precise data from human populations, John’s work is underpinned by "a real wish to create reliable evidence for public health and clinical decision making".
"The central goal in my career has been to produce useful medical information that can be used to improve public health," he said.
John’s career commenced with his studies towards a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, which he received from the University of Adelaide in 1971. After developing an interest in clinical pharmacology at the University labs one summer break, John completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne.
He was subsequently awarded an overseas postgraduate research scholarship by the National Heart Foundation and studied epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and
"The central goal in my career has been to produce useful medical information that can be used to improve public health."Professor John James McNeil
Since then, he has forged an illustrious research career, highlighted by some 600 publications and more than 43,000 citations. He has also secured more than $150 million in competitive funding, including more than $40 million from the US National Institute of Health.
In addition to his individual contributions to research, John has also fostered the next generation of public health researchers with 16 of his 39 PhD students attaining full professorships to date. His leadership acumen is further exemplified by his department at Monash University, which has grown under his direction from a team of seven in 1986 to more than 1,000 staff.
In 2014, John received a Sir John Monash Distinguished Professorship from Monash University, and in 2017 was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for services to public health.
Despite this impressive registry of achievements, for John "it’s impossible to put metrics around success".
"I think it’s an amalgam of what you’ve achieved for your individual patients, for your population, for your institutions, for your university," he said.