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Professor Sir Richard Peto

Professor Sir Richard Peto

Richard Peto


Emeritus Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology

Sir Richard Peto, FRS, is Emeritus Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology at the University of Oxford.

He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1989 for introducing meta-analyses of randomised trials, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1999 for services to epidemiology, and received in 2010 and 2011 the Cancer Research UK and the BMJ Lifetime Achievement Award.

Richard Peto, Rory Collins and others in the Clinical Trial Service Unit & Epidemiological Studies Unit (CTSU) have, by their large randomised trials, large prospective studies and worldwide meta-analyses, increased substantially the estimated importance of blood lipids, blood pressure and smoking as causes of premature death.

Peto has recently collaborated in major studies of alcohol in Russia and of malaria in Africa and India. His investigations into the worldwide health effects of smoking and benefits of stopping at particular ages have helped to communicate effectively the vast and growing burden of disease from tobacco use. In addition, his work has helped change national and international attitudes about smoking and public health, contributing to many smokers stopping this harmful activity.

He was the first to describe clearly the future worldwide health effects of current smoking patterns, predicting one billion deaths from tobacco in the present century if current smoking patterns persist, as against 'only' 100 million in the 20th century.