Neo M. Tapela, is an Associate Physician in the Division of Global Health Equity, an Instructor at Harvard Medical School, an Aspen New Voices Fellow and Research Associate for the Botswana Harvard Partnership.

She currently heads Botswana’s national non-communicable diseases (NCD) program within the Ministry of Health. In this capacity she has led the finalization of Botswana’s first national primary health care guidelines, including strengthening the primary care platform, integrating standardized high-impact NCD interventions, and leading the shift towards community-based healthcare delivery. She also serves as the principal investigator for several NIH-funded research projects; most recently, a planning grant to establish a center for NCD research excellence in Southern Africa.

Dr. Tapela is a graduate of the Doris and Howard Hiatt Global Health Equity residency program, at Brigham and Women's Hospital. During her residency, she worked in Haiti, Lesotho, Rwanda, and Botswana, and participated in an internship program at WHO headquarters in Geneva. Upon completing residency, Dr. Tapela returned to her home country Botswana where she joined the newly established University of Botswana School of Medicine, where she contributed to the design of the internal medicine residency curriculum and spearheaded quality improvement initiatives.

She subsequently served as Director of Partners In Health’s NCD program in Rwanda, during which time she oversaw the establishment of Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence, a unique public rural comprehensive oncology program now serving over 4,000 low-income patients. Dr. Tapela also established Rwanda’s first national cancer treatment guidelines and developed a training curriculum to facilitate the scale up of a district hospital integrated NCD care model.

Dr. Tapela earned her BA in Biological Sciences (with a minor in Africana Studies) from Wellesley College in 2002, her MD from the Harvard Medical School in 2010, and her MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2010.


  • –present
    Instructor, Harvard Medical School