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Dr. Joel Neal

Dr. Joel Neal

Medical Oncologist

Dr. Joel Neal is a thoracic oncologist at the Stanford Medical Center who treats patients with pleural mesothelioma, non-small cell lung cancer and other malignancies.

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About Joel Neal

  • Pleural and Lung Cancer icon

    Pleural and Lung Cancer

  • Research Excellence icon

    Excellence in Research

  • Immunotherapy icon


  • Board Certified icon

    Board Certified in Medical Oncology

  • 10+ Years of Experience icon

    10+ Years of Experience

Neal joined the Stanford Medical Center in 2010 after completing a fellowship program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where he first developed an interest in mesothelioma.

While maintaining an active practice, he also is an assistant professor in the Division of Oncology at Stanford and plays a key role in the university’s highly regarded medical research program.

At the Stanford Cancer Institute, Neal designs and conducts innovative clinical trials, many of them involving personalized immunotherapy combinations that are becoming more effective in the fight against cancer.

Dr. Joel Neal’s Role in Advancing Immunotherapy Treatments

Immunotherapy, which is seen by many as the future of cancer care, involves the use of a patient’s own immune system to fight the growth of cancer cells.

“Immunotherapy can be combined with almost everything — chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy and, most excitingly, other immunotherapies,” Neal said. “The goal is figuring how to make it work for more patients, and to work for a longer period of time.”

He has been at the forefront of research on CAR T-cell therapy and its early development with solid tumors.

The therapy involves the laboratory reprograming of a patient’s T cells — a type of white blood cell — to attack a particular surface protein. Some believe this technology will one day become part of the mesothelioma standard of care.

“At these trials, we’re engineering a patient’s own T cells to fight the cancer they might not have fought otherwise,” Neal explained. “If we can teach the T cells how to fight the tumor, that’s exciting.”

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Taking a Leadership Role

Neal has published dozens of articles involving thoracic oncology. He co-authored a recent article titled “Novel Systemic Therapy Against Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma” in Translational Lung Cancer Research.

The article included novel approaches to targeting particular proteins expressed on mesothelioma cells, arginine depletion therapy and the emerging role of immunotherapy.

His work also has been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Nature Medicine and Lancet Oncology.

Neal holds both a medical degree and a doctoral degree in tumor biology from Northwestern University in Chicago.

He has taken a leadership role at Stanford as the Cancer Institute IT medical director, coordinating projects related to the use of electronic health care records to improve provider efficiency.

He has presented several times at American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meetings, and he is a member of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer.

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Disclaimer: Dr. Joel Neal has no professional affiliation with

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Tim Povtak is an award-winning writer with more than 30 years of reporting national and international news. His specialty is interviewing top mesothelioma specialists and researchers, reporting the latest news at mesothelioma cancer centers and talking with survivors and caregivers.

Daniel King, Content Writer for
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4 Cited Article Sources

The sources on all content featured in The Mesothelioma Center at include medical and scientific studies, peer-reviewed studies and other research documents from reputable organizations.

  1. Stanford Medicine. (n.d.). Joel Neal, MD, PhD.
    Retrieved from:
  2. Stanford Profiles. (n.d.). Joel Neal, MD, PhD.
    Retrieved from:
  3. Mancuso, M. (2017, June). Novel Systemic Therapy Against Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma.
    Retrieved from:
  4. Columbus, G. (2017, February 16). Expert Discusses Impact of Immunotherapy. Retrieved from:

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Last Modified August 19, 2020

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