Neal Copeland received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Utah and carried out his postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School, where he met his long-time collaborator and wife, Nancy Jenkins. After their postdoctoral training, they moved to The Jackson Laboratory where they were associate staff scientists. In 1985, they moved to the National Cancer Institute-Frederick where Copeland served as director of the Mammalian Genetics Laboratory and later of the Mouse Cancer Genetics Program.
In 2006, Copeland and Jenkins moved to the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Singapore where Copeland served as director for most of their stay. They returned to the U.S. in 2011 and joined the Houston Methodist Research Institute where they are both cancer research scholars at the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas.
Throughout their careers, they have modeled many different types of human disease in mice, including those affecting the visual, auditory, hematopoietic, skeletal, pigmentation, immune and nervous systems, but the focus of their current research is exclusively cancer. They have published more than 800 papers together, have each served on numerous scientific advisory and editorial boards, and are both members of the National Academy of Sciences.