Sir Richard Peto Receives CDC Foundation Hero Award
By Dr. Judy Monroe, president & CEO of the CDC Foundation
Did you know that cardiovascular disease (CVD), which includes heart attack and stroke, is the leading cause of death in the world today? Eighty percent of CVD deaths are the result of heart attacks and strokes, with more than three-quarters occurring in low-and middle-income countries. A significant number of those at highest risk for CVD events are without access to medications that could have immediate benefits. In addition, CVD places a significant economic and social burden on low- and middle-income countries. If current trends continue, related costs over the next decade could be as high as $3.6 trillion annually.
In recent years, there have been many advancements to better understand and address the disease, particularly groundbreaking research by Sir Richard Peto, one of the world’s foremost epidemiologists. For his efforts to save countless lives worldwide by uncovering the root causes of CVD and cancer and bringing data to bear on public policies, Peto was presented the 2016 CDC Foundation Hero Award. First presented in 2005, this award recognizes an individual’s significant contribution to improving the public’s health through exemplary work in advancing CDC’s mission of protecting the health, safety and security of America and the world.
Peto is professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at the University of Oxford and co-director of the university’s Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1989 for introducing meta-analyses of randomized trials and was knighted by the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth in 1999 for services to epidemiology.
Sir Richard’s legacy is long and varied. Among his many accomplishments and discoveries, he was the first known expert to describe clearly the future worldwide health effects of current smoking patterns, and his work helped alter policies and popular attitudes in many countries toward the hazards of smoking and the large benefits of stopping. He was co-author with the late Professor Sir Richard Doll of a series of reports on tobacco use and cancer, a 50-year prospective study of mortality in relation to smoking among British doctors, and an influential 1981 report quantifying the avoidable causes of cancer in the United States. Find out more about Peto’s legacy in combatting CVD and cancer in our recent press release about the award.
Among the eight previous recipients of the award are a former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter; the founder of the world renowned development organization, Partners in Health, Paul Farmer; and the man who helped lead the global eradication of smallpox, former CDC Director Dr. Bill Foege.
We are honored to recognize Sir Richard Peto for his inspiring work that revolutionized research and policies on cardiovascular disease and cancer.