Professor John J McNeil AO

Name: John McNeil
Professor and Head of School
Faculty: Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
Department: Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine
Alfred Hospital

How long have you worked at Monash?

Since 1 April 1986

Where did you work prior to starting at the University?

I worked for 10 years at the Austin Hospital in the Clinical  Pharmacology Unit of Melbourne University. I started as a medical  registrar, then a PhD student and ultimately progressed to First  Assistant in the Department of Medicine.

What do you like best about your role?

I enjoy working with terrific  people with a strong  intellectual interest in studying important  problems of health. I love   the diversity of our research program which involves  many  of  the  'big agendas’ in clinical medicine and public health.

Why did you choose your current career path?

I think I must secretly love chaos, time pressure  and whiling away time in meetings. Seriously, when I attended my first  course in epidemiology I could see  why this  subject is ‘basic science’  of  'clinical medicine'. It also underpins public health and health  services research.

I loved it and got hooked!

First job?

Locum general practioner in Leigh Creek in South  Australia. I was 25 and the only GP for a hundred miles. I told the  locum agency  that I was not overly  keen on delivering babies but my  request was ignored!  I must have been crazy!

Hardest  job?

Ambulance officer based at the Unley station, one  of Adelaide’s busiest. Nothing can really prepare a person for  that  role.  I developed a great admiration for paramedics and the police.

What research are you currently working on and what does it involve?

ASPREE is the biggest and most exciting project I  have ever been involved in. It is a 60 million dollar clinical trial  of low-dose aspirin that will affect clinical practice internationally.

It will also be a fundamental source of information about the health of our ageing population for years to come.

I can't believe how competent the staff working on this project are, they have earned the highest praise from our NIH funders.

What is your favourite place in the world and why?

Lugano, Switzerland - site of my summer holidays as a teenager (while living in London).

What is your favourite place to eat and why?

Home. My wife Pauline is an unbelievable cook. She makes low-calorie meals for me but I often cheat.

What is the best advice you have received?

I really like John Lennon’s  comment that "life is  what happens while you are making other plans". It provides a great  rationalisation for more ‘doing’ and less planning.

I also like the advice my PhD supervisor gave me which was 'don’t be  reading when you can be writing'. That is good advice which I have  enjoyed passing on to my PhD students.

Tell us something about yourself that your colleagues wouldn’t know?

I think I have lost my English accent.