Neil Thakur, Ph.D.
Chief Mission Officer, The ALS Association
Neil brings more than two decades of experience as a public health expert to the fight against ALS. He has led The ALS Association’s mission programs – research, care services, and advocacy – since 2018.
Prior to joining the Association, Neil served in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of the Director, where he supported NIH governance and helped make NIH research more open and less burdensome. He managed the world’s largest policy to make biomedical research papers publicly accessible and co-chaired the White House taskforce that lead to the requirement that all federal science agencies adopt similar policies. He also spent a year on detail to the US Senate Special Committee on Aging, raising awareness about quality issues in long-term health care, particularly around Alzheimer’s care and pharmaceuticals.
Prior to his time at NIH, Neil worked with health systems in many capacities. He was Assistant Director of Health Services Research and Development at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), leading an evaluation service for the VA health system and represented the VA research service in setting clinical performance measures. In his post-doctoral-fellowship, he studied the interactions between jails, Medicaid and behavioral health care, and how changes in health financing impacted people’s utilization of these systems. During graduate school, he worked throughout the Connecticut behavioral health system, helping to implement managed care and health information systems, and raise tens of millions of dollars in competitive grants.
Neil won many awards for his government service, including several NIH Director’s Awards, and the Secretary for Health and Human Services’ award for Meritorious Service, the second highest award that the Secretary can bestow. He holds a Ph.D. in Health Policy from Yale University School of Public Health and completed a NIMH postdoctoral fellowship in mental health services research at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He lives in Maryland with his wife Jen.