Richard Peto is a Professor of Medical Statistics and epidemiology and a co-Director of the Clinical Trial Service unit at the University of Oxford. He studied natural sciences at Cambridge University and obtained his MSc in statistics at the University of London. Professor Peto's work has included studies of the causes of cancer in general, and of the effects of smoking in particular, and the establishment of large-scale randomized trials of the treatment of cancer and various other diseases. He has been instrumental in introducing combined "meta-analyses" of results from diverse studies. Dr Peto is one of the world's most cited medical researchers and he was knighted in 1999 for his services to epidemiology and cancer prevention. He devotes much of his energy to advising and providing information on "avoidable death". His work continues to have a direct influence on public policy and adult mortality in many countries.