Julian Peto FMedSci read maths at Oxford (1964-67) followed by an MSc in statistics at Imperial College. He worked as a statistician at Edinburgh University, then in London at the Institute of Psychiatry and the MRC TB Unit. He returned to Oxford in 1974 to join the ICRF Cancer Epidemiology and Clinical Trials Unit, part of Richard Doll’s burgeoning empire.
From 1983 to 2004 he was Cancer Research UK Professor of Epidemiology and head of the Section of Epidemiology at the Institute of Cancer Research where, together with Bruce Ponder and Mike Stratton, he initiated the work that led to the discovery of BRCA2.
His work has included clinical trials on various cancers and more recently the VIDAL (Vitamin D and Longevity) trial, and many epidemiological studies. His main current interests are the natural history of human papillomavirus infection and cervical cancer, particularly in relation to screening, and the hazards of asbestos, which were underestimated when he began studying it in 1975 and are now exaggerated.
His Chair was transferred to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2004.