Neal, a native of Huntington, earned his undergraduate degree from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1962. His medical degree was awarded by West Virginia University in 1966, where he was the first recipient of the Edward J. Van Liere Award for medical student research. From 1985 to 1998 he served as chair of the WVU Department of Pediatrics and was instrumental in conceptualization and development of WVU Medicine Children’s, serving as its first medical director.
Neal is currently James H. Walker Professor of Preventive Cardiology in the Department of Pediatrics.
Upon graduation from medical school, Neal continued training as a rotating intern at the Milwaukee County General Hospital, Marquette University, 1966-’67. He was then commissioned in the U.S. Navy, where after graduation from the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute, he was assigned as flight surgeon aboard the USS Constellation. He made two combat tours to Vietnam.
After postgraduate work in pediatric cardiology at the University of Minnesota from 1970-74, Neal joined the WVU faculty. He was awarded emeritus status July 1, 2014 after 40 years of service to the University and state.
Neal’s clinical career at WVU focused on development and regionalization of newborn intensive care, establishment of a statewide system of outreach clinics in pediatric cardiology, and founding of the Coronary Artery Risk Detection In Appalachian Communities Project. CARDIAC has provided risk factor surveillance, intervention, and research for over 150,000 school-age children from every West Virginia community during the past 16 years.
As the largest comprehensive accumulation of health status data on children in the nation, it has strongly influenced policy guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding blood cholesterol screening and treatment for children at risk for premature heart disease and diabetes. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Familial Hypercholesterolemia Foundation.
He was named Distinguished Alumnus of the WVU School of Medicine in 2006.