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The link between smoking and lung cancer was originally discovered by Sir Richard Doll in 1956. Sir Richard Peto has continued to study the impact of tobacco of global health (see video). Smoking cigarettes is a leading cause of premature death worldwide. There were about 100 million deaths from tobacco in the 20th century, most in developed countries. If current smoking patterns persist, it is estimated that tobacco will kill about 1 billion people this century, mostly in low- and middle-income countries, and about half of these deaths will occur before age 70.


Blood lipids are a major cause of cardiovascular disease. Higher levels of LDL cholesterol and lower levels of HDL cholesterol are associated with higher heart disease risk. While this has been known for some time, effective treatments to substantially lower LDL cholesterol have only become available in recent decades.

Blood Pressure

The Global Burden of Disease 2010 study attributed more deaths to high blood pressure than to any other risk factor. Blood pressure is a well-established risk factor for vascular disease, but important questions remain about its importance in different patient groups and for different clinical outcomes.


Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) includes all the diseases of the heart and circulation including coronary heart disease, angina, heart attack, congenital heart disease and stroke. Despite improvements in the prevention and treatment of CVD in recent decades, it remains the leading cause of death worldwide, particularly in developed countries.


In 2012, cancer was responsible for around 8 million deaths globally and, despite improvements in survival seen in recent decades, remains a major cause of death. The most common types of cancer in males are lung cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and stomach cancer, and in females, the most common types are breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, and cervical cancer.

Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is a significant and growing contributor to the global burden of disease. There are around 60,000 kidney transplants globally per year. There are more than half a million people worldwide with a transplant with many more people waiting for a transplant, so a priority for research is to better understand how treatment can extend the life of transplanted kidneys. People with kidney disease are also at a much higher risk of developing a number of diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease, and so more research is also needed on treatments to prevent these diseases in people with kidney disease.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus is a group of metabolic disorders in which there are high blood sugars over a prolonged period. Rates of type-2 (or adult onset) diabetes have increased rapidly in recent decades due to changes in diet and other lifestyle factors. Patients with diabetes are at increased risk of a number of diseases, most notably cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and damage to the eyes.

Other Chronic Diseases

Chronic disease is responsible for a major part of our society’s burden of disability. In addition to our research into chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and renal disease we conduct a range of research into other diseases, as well as into the care of people with chronic conditions.