Julian Peto is an epidemiologist whose dose-response models for asbestos-related cancers contributed directly to reducing industrial exposure levels and subsequently to the European asbestos ban, and are still the accepted basis for environmental risk assessment. He predicted the scale of the mesothelioma epidemic, and his recent work predicts its end.
He showed that the contribution of genetic susceptibility to common cancers had been greatly underestimated, then during his tenure as Cancer Research UK Chair of Epidemiology at the Institute of Cancer Research from 1983 to 2010 he initiated several studies on cancer genetics, contributing to the discovery of BRCA2 and early work on polygenic cancer susceptibility.
He established early studies on HPV infection and cervical cancer risk, and since moving to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine his main interest has been how HPV testing, which is replacing cytology in cervical screening, should be implemented within the NHS and also in low and middle income countries with more limited resources. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.
Professor of Epidemiology, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)