Aaron Neal, D.Phil., serves as a Clinical Research Specialist and the Indonesia Partnership Lead in the Division of Clinical Research of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). He is an internationally trained infectious disease scientist working at the intersection of science, medicine, public health, and diplomacy. He is particularly interested in research study design, data analysis, and molecular laboratory applications.
Dr. Neal is a native of Huntsville, Alabama, and completed undergraduate studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, graduating with a B.S. in Molecular Biology and Honors in Science and Technology. While at UAB, he conducted research on blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum surface antigens in the laboratory of Julian Rayner, PhD. Dr. Neal’s work included malaria immunogenicity field studies in the remote Peruvian Amazon, which ignited his interest in global health and infectious diseases as a career. He continued on to obtain a D.Phil. in Tropical Medicine from the University of Oxford through the NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program. Under the guidance of Rick Fairhurst, M.D., Ph.D., and Chris Newbold, Ph.D., Dr. Neal conducted research at NIAID and Oxford focused on understanding molecular mechanisms underlying blood-stage pathogenesis and antimalarial drug resistance in P. falciparum. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at NIAID and field work in Cambodia and Mali, he transitioned to a Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) appointment at NIAID. Dr. Neal served in various science management roles as a PMF, including as a Health Diplomat to Taiwan CDC in Taipei, before joining the NIAID Division of Clinical Research as an International Health Scientist in 2018. He initially provided scientific and laboratory support to NIAID government-to-government research partnerships in Mali, Guinea, and Indonesia before becoming the Indonesia Partnership Lead in 2020.
Currently, Dr. Neal leads the NIAID contribution to INA-RESPOND and represents NIAID on the Network Steering Committee. He works closely with the Secretariat and Reference Lab on all matters affecting the Network and its research. Since his first visit to Indonesia in February 2017, Dr. Neal has been excited to work with the dedicated members of INA-RESPOND on significant disease threats. He has contributed to the Network’s research since the end of the AFIRE study, and he continues to enthusiastically support its important research and capacity building activities. Dr. Neal believes that increasing international scientific cooperation and enhancing research capacity globally are critical to protecting all of us from infectious disease threats. He is thankful to be a part of INA-RESPOND and its work to fulfill these goals, and he looks forward to the Network becoming the premiere research organization in the region.