A graduate of the University of Adelaide Medical School, South Australia, Dr. Cleary trained in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology at the Royal Adelaide Hospital followed by three years of opioid pharmacology research in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Adelaide.
He moved to the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1994, initially working on Phase 1 cytotoxic studies, before serving as the founding Medical Director of the Palliative Care Clinical Program from 1996-2011. During that time, he also served as Program Director of Cancer Control at the UW Carbone Cancer Center, integrating palliative care into that program and as Chair of the UWCCC's Scientific Review Committee. In this time at the University of Wisconsin, he was recognized as a Top Doctor (Palliative Medicine) by the Madison Magazine and a Top Doctor in America Oncology (Head and Neck Cancer).
He was Director of the Pain and Policy Studies Group from 2011-2018 and co-lead the Global Opioid Policy Initiative that reviewed opioid availability in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America, India, and the Middle East. He was co-chair of the Breast Health Global Initiative (BHGI)'s resource stratified guidelines for Palliative Care and is currently a member of the Lancet Commission on Palliative Care and is co-chair of ASCO's Resource-Stratified Guideline on Palliative Care. He is serving on a number of global task forces addressing the impact of COVID-19 on cancer care. Grants have not only supported improving global access to palliative care but also cancer communication
He served as the 2004 President of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and chair of the US Coaltion of Hospice and Pallaitive Care. He continues as a North American Editor of Palliative Medicine, the Research Journal of the European Association of Palliative Care.
He hase been honored recently as one of 30 global Visionaries in Palliative care by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Care and is the 2021 Recipient of the Floriani Lecture Award from the European Association of Palliative Care.
He is now Medical Director the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer and Director of Supportive Oncology, combining the roles to optimize the provision of care throughout the cancer experience.