Professor McNeil was Head of Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (SPHPM) and head of the Department of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine at the Alfred Medical Research Precinct from 1986 to 2019. Over that time, the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine (DEPM) has become one of the major clinical and public research units in the country, employing over 160 doctorally qualified staff with a total staff complement of approximately 700. Currently there are 460 postgraduate coursework students and 170 doctoral students.
The School has evolved around a core of methodological skills in epidemiology, clinical medicine, biostatistics & data-management. Much of the work of the department now centres on large scale clinical trials, clinical registries and major occupational cohorts.
Professor McNeil originally graduated in Medicine from the University of Adelaide in 1971. After his specialist training he completed a PhD in Clinical Pharmacology at Melbourne University. In 1979 he was awarded a National Heart Foundation overseas postgraduate research scholarship to study epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
Professor McNeil has a research background in epidemiology and public health. His research activities have involved the application of epidemiological methods to problems in clinical medicine and public health. Highlights include:
• Establishment of a program of investigator initiated clinical trials including the NHMRC funded MAVET & VECAT trials of Vitamin E and the MAVET trial of folic acid supplementation in renal failure. Professor McNeil was a PI on the ANBP2 trial comparing diuretics and ACE-inhibitors for the management of hypertension.
• Co-principal investigator of the joint US-Australia NIH-funded ASPREE trial of low-dose aspirin in the elderly, which is the largest prevention trial conducted within Australia and based largely on ‘ANBP2’ methodology. Various sub-studies will ensure that ASPREE will become a major international resource for study of the elderly.
• Development of a program of pharmaco-epidemiological studies to identify those at risk of serious idiosyncratic adverse drug reactions (ADR).
• Leadership of a team that successfully applied for an NHMRC Centre of Clinical Research Excellence in Patient Safety. This has become a major Australian centre for registry science. It has established a highly popular 'Registries Special Interest Group' which is attended in person or via phone by other registries throughout Australia.
• Establishment of the public health node of the CRC for Water Quality and Treatment. This CRC brought together the major water authorities in Australia at the time when a number of major public issues were generating concern. As Chair of the Alfred Hospital Ethics Committee,
Professor McNeil has been involved in a variety of leadership roles including directorships of Alfred Health, Austin Health, the Colonial Foundation, Orygen Youth Mental Health Research Institute, , the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, the Metropolitan Ambulance Service, the Dunlop Medical Research Foundation, Victorian Managed Insurance Authority and Water Quality Research Australia. He was Chair of the Victorian Public Health Research and Education Foundation from 2006-2008, and was the Scientific Secretary of the International Society of Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy. He is currently a member of the My-Health Record Expansion steering group, , Cancer Australia's Stage, Treatment and Recurrence (STaR) steering committee, the Victorian Consultative Council for Maternal & Perinatal Mortality (CCOPPM) committee and the Victorian Patient Experience and Outcomes Measurement and Reporting Committee . He was awarded an AM in 2009 in recognition of his services to Public Health.