Barbara J. McNeil, MD, PhD

Barbara J. McNeil, MD, PhD, is the Ridley Watts Professor and founding head of the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School. She is also a professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She recently completed a six-month term as acting dean for Harvard Medical School. 

Dr. McNeil’s research activities have focused on several areas, most notably technology assessment and quality of care. Her most recent work includes two large studies supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The first focused on a comparison of quality of care for veterans with cardiac disease, with the care provided to Medicare beneficiaries seen in private settings. The report led to the introduction of many changes in the care of veterans with cardiac disease. As a result of that study, Dr. McNeil and her colleagues recently completed a similar study on cancer care; they studied patients with lung cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, or several hematological malignancies. She and colleagues from Abt Associates are now evaluating the extent to which the infrastructure for research in the VA matches the needs of its investigators. With Drs. Chernew and Landon and colleagues from the Children’s Hospital, she is examining the impact of global payments in Massachusetts on the care of children.

Dr. McNeil also works closely with the national Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. She reviews and evaluates the success of their activities related to the identification and dissemination of approaches to improving either the quality or the efficiency of care in plans across the country. She is also a member of the Medical Advisory Committee for the Technology Evaluation Commission (TEC). 

Dr. McNeil received her BA from Emmanuel College, her MD from Harvard Medical School, and her PhD from Harvard University. She is a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences (where she was recently chair of its Board of Health Care Services) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is now vice chair of the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Previously, she served on the Board of Directors of Edwards LifeSciences (Irvine, CA) and was a member of the Prospective Payment Assessment Commission and the Publications Committee of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Honors and Awards

Career Achievement Award
2008 - Society for Medical Decision Making

National Associate of the National Research Council of the National Academies
2008 - National Research Council of the National Academies

Shattuck Lecturer
2001 - Massachusetts Medical Society
Distinguished Fellow
1996 - Association for Health Services Research
Presidential Award
1995 - American College of Nuclear Physicians
Research Career Development Award
1976-1981 - National Institutes of Health
cum laude
1966 - Harvard Medical School
summa cum laude
1962 - Emmanuel College

Associated Websites

Brigham and Women's Hospital
Professor of radiology

Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital
Member of the provisional medical staff

Dana Farber Cancer Institute