Rory Collins is an epidemiologist who studies how to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease in large population-based studies. He trained in Medicine at St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School, London University, and Statistics at George Washington and Oxford Universities.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, Rory coordinated the ISIS “mega-trials” of the emergency treatment of heart attacks involving more than 130,00 patients. These trials showed that clot-dissolving and clot-preventing treatment could more than halve mortality, and these treatments rapidly became part of routine care (and paved the way for non-pharmaceutical approaches to opening coronary arteries).
Since the early 1990s, he has been involved in conducting large-scale randomized trials of the effects of modifying blood levels of cholesterol. For example, the 20,000 patient Heart Protection Study that he led showed that lowering LDL-cholesterol with statin therapy safely reduces the risk of death and disability from heart attacks and strokes among a much wider range of people than previously thought to benefit from such treatment. As a consequence, statin therapy is now used extensively worldwide.
He became Principal Investigator of the UK Biobank study in September 2005. Involving 500,000 participants, it is the largest deeply characterised prospective epidemiological study of disease in the world, and is being made available for any type of health-related research by researchers worldwide.
Rory is the Head of the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford. He was knighted for services to Science in 2011 and was elected to the UK Royal Society in 2015. He was awarded the UK Medical Research Council’s 2020 Millennium Medal for his national and international contributions to both cardiovascular disease and UK Biobank.