The Queen awards medal to Strathclyde Professor

Professor Peter Boyle is presented with the RSE Royal Medal by Her Majesty the Queen. Photo by Gary Doak Photography, courtesy of the RSE.

A University of Strathclyde Professor has received a prestigious award from the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) for his work in cancer and public health.

Professor Peter Boyle, Director of the Strathclyde Institute of Global Public Health at iPRI (International Prevention Research Institute), was awarded the RSE Royal Medal for his outstanding contribution to global cancer control and public health policy.   

 He is internationally known for his research in epidemiology and disease prevention, and led the EUROCAN+PLUS project for the European Parliament, which developed priorities for coordination of cancer research in Europe. Peter is also founder and president of the World Prevention Alliance, which is committed to prevention research and action in lower-income countries.

The award to Professor Boyle was made after Her Majesty The Queen, patron of the RSE, approved the RSE Council’s recommendations for the award Royal Medals.

Professor Boyle, who is a Fellow of the RSE, said: “I am deeply honoured to be the recipient of this prestigious award from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland’s National Academy. I have been privileged to work with some outstanding individuals and groups who have greatly influenced me to determine what was important and what could be done to change situations for the better.

“Coming from a background in Statistics, I gradually realised that statistics were patients with the tears wiped away. For me, this is my key philosophy when working in Global Public Health”.

RSE President Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell said: “It was a very great pleasure to welcome our Patron, Her Majesty The Queen to the RSE to present the Royal Medals. As this is the third time Her Majesty has visited the RSE, and the second time that she has presented the Royal Medals, we deeply appreciate the interest she has shown in the RSE and her personal involvement in the presentation of these prestigious awards. This year’s Royal Medallists have all made truly exceptional contributions to their areas. These awards are the RSE’s highest accolades that reflect the enlightenment spirit of the RSE’s Royal Charter of 1783 and its remit to advance learning and useful knowledge.”

Professor Boyle was born, raised and educated in Glasgow but has spent the majority of his career working internationally, including his current post with iPRI, which is based in Lyon and Glasgow. He has also held posts at Yale University, Harvard School of Public Health, the University of Glasgow, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, where he was Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics for 13 years.

New approaches

Professor Boyle’s research focuses on disease prevention, translating research into new approaches to treatment and translating information on risk factors into changes in population behaviour. He has served as a member of the European Cancer Advisory Board and worked as scientific advisor to the European Commission on the European Tobacco Contents Directive, which became law in 2012. He was also responsible for three versions of the European Code Against Cancer.

He was Editor of the World Cancer Report 2008 and the State of Oncology 2013, which highlighted the growing global cancer crisis. This was followed by State of Oncology Africa 2015 which, with an accompanying film, Cancer Is…Attacking Africa, highlighted the need for action against chronic disease in low-resource countries.  

Professor Boyle received a lifetime achievement award from the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) in 2014. ESMO praised him for “(his) dedication, his ability to engage us all in ultimately reversing the many disparities that exist in access to optimal cancer treatment and care across borders.”

His other honours include the Knight’s Cross of Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and honorary doctorates from the Universities of Aberdeen and Dundee. In addition to being a Member of the National Academy of Science of Hungary, Peter is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.

RSE Royal Medals were instituted by The Queen to mark the Millennium and have been awarded since then with her express approval. These accolades are awarded for distinction and international repute in any of the following categories: Life Sciences; Physical and Engineering Sciences; Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Business and Commerce.