Michele V. McNeill (‘75 BS)
Michele Vigneault McNeill, a native of Charleston, W.Va., received her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from West Virginia University in 1975. While at WVU, she was elected president of the Rho Chi Honor Society, then signifying the top 10 percent academically of the class. She received her doctor of pharmacy degree from Duquesne University and then completed a residency in hospital pharmacy practice at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh.
McNeill is the founder and chief executive officer of Kern McNeill International (KMI), a contract research organization providing clinical drug development services to research-based pharmaceutical manufacturers. This entails overseeing all phases of investigational drug research and the drug approval process.
Before entering her current profession, McNeill practiced clinical pharmacy at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia and Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo. She began her career in the pharmaceutical industry at Warner Lambert and went on to hold key management positions at Hoffman LaRoche and Ciba Geigy (now Novartis). In 1988, McNeill founded Kern McNeill International with four employees and an office located above a store. KMI now employs 125 people and has offices nationwide. In June of 1998, Applied HealthCare Informatics, a subsidiary of United HealthCare Corporation, acquired KMI. They recognized KMI “for its leadership in managing expanded access programs and controlled clinical trials and for its exceptionally high quality work.” The merger expanded KMI’s ability to complete research in Pacific Rim countries and underdeveloped countries around the world.
At KMI, McNeill has pioneered work in the area of providing access to investigational drugs (INDs) for serious and life-threatening illnesses such as AIDS and cancer. Patients receive medications which are under investigation more rapidly than in the past. More than 160,000 patients have been treated in programs which have been managed by KMI.
McNeill’s commitment to the treatment of AIDS has been recognized nationally and internationally. She is a member of the board of directors of the American Foundations for AIDS Research (AMFAR) which is dedicated to AIDS research, education for AIDS prevention, and AIDS related public policy. She also works with the Pediatric AIDS Foundation which identifies problems unique to children infected with HIV and works to provide effective therapies and possible cures by funding pediatric AIDS research.
McNeill has kept close ties with WVU returning to speak in conjunction with the presentation of a scholarship she established in memory of her father, Frank Vigneault. With the advent of a new curriculum in the School of Pharmacy, McNeill is actively involved in identifying training experiences for pharmacy students who seek to learn more about contract drug research organizations during the experiential component of their education.