HMS Names Barbara McNeil Acting Dean

Barbara J. McNeil will lead Harvard Medical School on an interim basis beginning July 31.

Barbara J. McNeilPhotograph by Len Rubenstein

Barbara J. McNeil, Watts professor of health care policy and professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), has been appointed acting dean of the faculty of medicine beginning August 1, Harvard president Drew Faust and provost Alan Garber announced today. Current HMS dean Jeffrey S. Flier announced in November 2015 that he would step down this July 31; Faust and Garber said that the search for a new dean is progressing well.

McNeil, a member of the HMS faculty since 1983 and chair of the department of health care policy since she founded it in 1988, is well known to both Faust and Garber. She served as acting dean of HMS once before at Faust’s request in 2007, and has been actively involved in formulating the school’s conflict of interest policies before and since. In 2013, she served on the task force charged with formulating an e-mail privacy policy for the University.  McNeil also served with Garber on a committee that devised changes to Harvard’s health benefits in 2014, and defended those changes to members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, before modifications were made the following year.

According to an official communication, she has also served for two decades on the HMS faculty council and on

such bodies as the HMS faculty advisory committee on administration and management, the medical education reform executive committee, the board of advisors to the M.D.-Ph.D. program, the steering committee for the M.D.-M.B.A. program, the executive committee for the new HMS department of biomedical informatics, and the advisory committee for Harvard University Health Services.

McNeil’s research has focused largely on identifying the most appropriate, effective, and highest-quality medical technologies and imaging procedures for patients. She was one of the first physicians to apply the techniques of decision analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis to the study of new imaging technologies. In 1989 she founded the Radiology Diagnostic Imaging Group, the first government-sponsored initiative of its kind. Having long maintained a strong presence in both the HMS Quadrangle and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, she is renowned for her work in radiology, technology analysis, quality of care, and patient outcomes.

Faust and Garber, in a message announcing the appointment, called McNeil “one of Harvard Medical School’s most able and experienced leaders, scholars, educators, and institutional citizens. We are fortunate to have someone of her wisdom, perspective, experience, and strong institutional values to guide HMS through this interim period.”

Read more articles by: Jonathan Shaw

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