Professor Janet Peacock
Professor of Medical Statistics
Head of Statistics Group (FoLSM Health and Social Care Research)
Division of Health & Social Care Research
Date started at King’s
Challenges and achievements
When and what was responsible for you becoming interested in your academic discipline?
As an undergraduate when doing a maths degree, I encountered applied statistics taught by a superb teacher and I decided to take statistics as a joint course with maths and then went on to do a Masters and PhD.
What are your research interests, and what drew you to this area?
In brief: My clinical interests are i) studies in babies and children, ii) cancer. I am keen to use statistics to inform and change clinical practice. My methodological interests are statistical methods that solve real and important research problems and make research results more clinically meaningful.
Tell us about a couple of your achievements that have been particularly rewarding.
I am passionate about my subject and strive to communicate it enthusiastically and intelligently to non-statisticians. I have written 3 statistics books for non-specialists, the most recent of which, The Oxford Handbook of Medical Statistics, has sold over 5000 copies since publication in 2011.
A recent study in ex-preterm children that I co-lead with Professor Anne Greenough has just completed a follow-up at age 11-14 years that has shown potentially important clinical effects of early treatment. This work was published last month (March 2014) in the New England Journal of Medicine and was featured on the BBC website.
Do you have professional role models? Who are they and what do you find inspiring about them and their accomplishments?
My PhD supervisor and friend Professor Martin Bland (St Georges then York) has always encouraged me and given me confidence to do new things. He always had an open office door and I have tried to emulate him in this and other inspiring ways. He has achieved enormous success statistically, with the highest cited statistics paper in The Lancet and has gained an international reputation for his research and teaching. Yet he remains totally down to earth and approachable.
What do you feel is the most enjoyable/rewarding aspect of your job at King’s?
The buzz of being in a University where new things are possible and encouraged, of being in London where a lot is happening, and being surrounded by very good and friendly people at all levels.
How do you balance the various demands of a career in academia: research, teaching/learning, administration?
My view is that you need to be a good researcher to be a good teacher and vice-versa. The two complement each other. Balance is a challenge but if possible I use my research in my teaching as I can then teach in a more informed and more enthusiastic way. Administration needs to be done properly and when I am well-organized, I am most efficient.
How do you balance an academic career with life outside the workplace?
Not always optimally but I constantly try as I believe that work-life balance is important and that academics should be able to enjoy life outside work. I am concerned about the long hours culture that pervades academia as it is not good for family life and/or health and well-being. Further it can discriminate against those who are unable to work ‘crazy’ hours.
What have you learnt from your experiences that you would like to share with others?
Decide where you want to get to and get good advice to help you get there. But always have fun on the way.