Professor John McNeil
AM, MBBS (Adelaide), MSc (London), PhD (Melbourne), FRACP, FAFPHM
Head of Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine
Head of School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine
Phone: + 61 3 9903 0565
John graduated in Medicine from the University of Adelaide in 1971. After finishing his specialist training he completed a PhD in Clinical Pharmacology at Melbourne University in 1979 and was awarded a National Heart Foundation overseas postgraduate research scholarship to study epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. In 1986 John was appointed to the position of Chair of the Monash University Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at the Alfred Hospital.
Over the subsequent years, the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine (DEPM) (as it is now known) has become one of the major clinical and public research units in the country employing over 110 doctorally qualified staff and a total staff complement of 350. Currently there are 460 postgraduate students and 135 doctoral students. The department has evolved around a core of methodological skills in epidemiology, clinical medicine, biostatistics and data-management. Much of the work of the department now centres around large scale clinical trials, clinical registries and major occupational cohorts.
John's research activities have involved the application of epidemiological methods to problems in clinical medicine and public health. Highlights include:
1. Establishment of a program of investigator initiated clinical trials including the NHMRC-funded MAVET and VECAT trials of Vitamin E and the MAVET trial of folic acid supplementation in renal failure. John was a PI on the ANBP2 trial comparing diuretics and ACE-inhibitors for the management of hypertension.
2. Co-principal investigator of the $50 million NIH-funded ASPREE trial of low-dose aspirin in the elderly which is the largest trial conducted within Australia and based largely on 'ANBP2' methodology. Various sub-studies will ensure that ASPREE will become a major international resource for the study of the elderly.
3. Development of a program of pharmacoepidemiological studies to identify those at risk of serious idiosyncratic adverse drug reactions (ADR).
4. 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 registries from throughout Australia.
5. 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 a time when a number of major public issues were generating concern. The unit undertook research (including two clinical trials of water filtration), provided advice to water authorities and co-authored a range of policy documents (including the national water quality guidelines).
6. As Chair of the Alfred Hospital Ethics Committee, John has developed a leadership role in research governance. A series of publications were released describing the effectiveness of the initiatives introduced and attempts to refine them. Many other hospitals have also adopted these processes.
John has been involved in a variety of leadership roles including directorships of Austin Health, the Colonial Foundation, Orygen Youth Mental Health Research Institute, Alfred Health, the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, the Metropolitan Ambulance Service, the Dunlop Medical Research Foundation, and Water Quality Research Australia. He was the Chair of the Victorian Public Health Research and Education Foundation from 2006-2008 and is currently the Scientific Secretary of the International Society of Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy. John is also a member of the Alfred Research Council, the Austin Life Sciences Board, The Royal Melbourne Hospital Research Grants Committee, the Orygen Youth Mental Health Research Institute, the Red Cross Blood Transfusion, and the selection committee for the Victorian Premier's Award for Health & Medical Research. He was awarded an AM in 2009 in recognition of services to Public Health.