Professor Richard Peto is currently Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology at the University of Oxford, and co-director (with Rory Collins) of the Clinical Trial Service Unit (CTSU).
He has devised a number of statistical methods (e.g. the “logrank” test for analysing clinical trials efficiently, the standard methods for correcting observational data for the “regression dilution” bias, etc), but his chief concern is not with statistical methods but with generating statistical results that are of global medical relevance. He was knighted in 1999 for services to cancer epidemiology.
The trials and epidemiological studies that the Oxford group produce are widely known because their large size and international scope yield particularly reliable results. CTSU scientists are involved with prospective studies that collectively include several million individuals in China, India, Russia, Egypt, Cuba, Mexico and, most recently, are helping direct the UK Biobank prospective study of 500,000 adults.
Turning from the treatment to the prevention of disease, the Oxford group have, by their reviews of the epidemiology and trials, increased substantially the estimated importance of blood pressure and blood cholesterol as causes of vascular death. Lastly, over the past decade or two they have been the epidemiologists most responsible for demonstrating the current and, particularly, the future size of the growing worldwide epidemic of death from tobacco and for establishing a worldwide network of large prospective and retrospective studies to monitor the growth of this epidemic over the next few decades.