Lewis Thomas was an American physician, poet, etymologist, essayist, administrator, educator, policy advisor, and researcher.
Thomas was born in Flushing, New York and attended Princeton University and Harvard Medical School. He became Dean of Yale Medical School and New York University School of Medicine, and President of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute. His formative years as an independent medical researcher were at Tulane University School of Medicine.
He was invited to write regular essays in the New England Journal of Medicine. One collection of those essays, The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher, won annual National Book Awards in two categories, Arts and Letters and The Sciences. Two other collections of essays were The Medusa and the Snail and Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony. In its first paperback edition, The Medusa and the Snail won another National Book Award in Science.
His autobiography, The Youngest Science: Notes of a Medicine Watcher, is a record of a century of medicine and the changes which occurred in it. He also published a book on etymology titled Et Cetera, Et Cetera, poems, and numerous scientific papers.