Peter grew up in Australia before coming to Oxford in 1980 as a Rhodes Scholar to undertake doctoral work in Mathematics. Since then he has worked at, and held professorships in, a number of universities in the UK and the US, including the University of London and the University of Chicago, before returning to Oxford in 1996. His early research focused on mathematical and statistical problems in genetics, but over time he has become more and more involved in the science itself.
He has played central roles in a number of major collaborations, including the International HapMap project, the successor to the Human Genome Project which studied the patterns of genetic variation in global populations, and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortia, which he chairs.
These UK-wide consortia represent some of the largest studies of the genetics of common human diseases ever undertaken, analysing genetic data from more than 80,000 people and using that data to study 25 common diseases and conditions.
In 2007 Peter moved within Oxford to take up the Directorship of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, a research centre of around 400 scientists working to understand the genetic basis of common human diseases. He has received a number of academic awards for his work, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Academy of Medical Sciences.