BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Catherine O’Neal, M.D., Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at the LSU Health Sciences Center, has been named Chief Medical Advisor for the Southeastern Conference, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey announced on Tuesday.
Dr. O’Neal, a member of the SEC’s Medical Guidance Task Force, will serve as a consultant to advise the Commissioner and Conference Office staff on medically-related matters and serve as the primary medical liaison for SEC member institutions on matters related to student-athlete health and safety.
“In this new role, Dr. O’Neal will continue to be a valuable resource for the SEC Office and our member institutions as we collaborate to provide world-class care for student-athletes and others around our athletics programs,” said Sankey. “Dr. O’Neal has been a vital contributor in guiding the SEC through COVID-19 realities and throughout that process has gained the trust and respect of campus leaders.”
In her role as the SEC’s Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. O’Neal will be responsible for facilitating the development of conference-wide medical initiatives and standards to ensure consistent policies related to physical health, mental health and holistic wellness.
Dr. O’Neal will provide guidance to the Conference office on matters related to health and safety of student-athletes; develop and introduce medical initiatives to promote physical health, mental health and wellness; and conduct educational sessions for coaches on key topics related to student-athlete medical care.
In addition, Dr. O’Neal will assist with educational sessions for university athletic training staff, conduct conference calls with institutional medical staffs, and participate in regular meeting of team doctors, athletics trainers and other SEC member medical contacts.
Dr. O’Neal has practiced medicine specializing in the research and treatment of infectious diseases since 2003. Throughout her career, she has held numerous clinical leadership roles focused on driving improved patient outcomes and developing zero-harm care environments. Dr. O’Neal has served on the faculty of Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans since 2009, most recently as an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine and Infectious Diseases. In her role, she teaches the next generation of healthcare providers as well as participates in research initiatives focused on rapid diagnostics and antibiotic utilization.
In March 2020, Dr. O’Neal was appointed Chief Medical Officer at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge. Prior to her current role, she served as the regional medical center’s Medical Director of Infection Prevention for 10 years. In addition to her leadership role, she continues an active clinical practice seeing inpatients and outpatients.
Dr. O’Neal completed medical school and residency at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans and her infectious diseases fellowship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. During her fellowship, Dr. O’Neal completed training in infection prevention. Dr. O’Neal served as co-chair of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System COVID-19 Clinical Task Force, a member of Governor John Bel Edwards COVID-19 Epidemiology Task Force, the Louisiana Legislative Advisory Task Force on Economic Recovery, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Committee on Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force, and the NFL’s COVID-19 Medical Guidance Committee, providing her expert guidance to safely re-open the economy, return children to in-person learning and resume sporting events.
She currently lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on a small family farm with her husband, Hollis O’Neal, MD, and their three children.