Sir Richard Peto FMedSci FRS

Richard Peto has shaped the way modern clinical trials and population studies are carried out worldwide. His own research has saved countless lives by quantifying and highlighting the preventable causes of cancer and cardiovascular disease — smoking, in particular — and by identifying optimum treatment choices for both.

Richard pioneered the use and analysis of ‘biggest-possible’ observational studies and clinical trials. By studying tens of thousands of individuals he showed that small differences in treatment effects could be revealed for the first time. For diseases as common as cancer, these small differences have the potential to save millions of lives.

His studies have made medical history; he clearly linked smoking with cancer and predicted the burden of smoking-related ill health in China and across the world. By analysing collections of previous studies, and running massive clinical trials, he has informed modern treatment strategies for heart attack, stroke and breast cancer.


  • King Faisal International Prize

    In the field of tobacco risks on human health.

  • Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine

    No citation available for this award.

  • Royal Medals

    For his outstanding work on the epidemiology of smoking and chronic disease. His application of innovative methods to look at the global burden of diseases associated with smoking gave new understanding and impetus to worldwide measures to deal with smoki

Sir Richard Peto FMedSci FRS
Elected 1989