Lewis Thomas Prize

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The Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science, named for its first recipient, Lewis Thomas, is an annual literary prize awarded by Rockefeller University[1] to scientists deemed to have accomplished a significant literary achievement: it "recognizes scientists as poets".[2] The award was established in 1993 and is endowed with a nominal US$5,000 purse. The university gives the prize annually to scientists whose books bridge the gap between the laboratory and the wider world, in the spirit of Lewis Thomas' collection of essays The Lives of a Cell. The Thomas Prize honors "the rare individual who bridges the worlds of science and the humanities – whose voice and vision can tell us about science's aesthetic and philosophical dimensions, providing not merely new information but cause for reflection, even revelation as in a poem or painting," Nobel laureate Torsten N. Wiesel, M.D., president of the University remarked in 1996.

The prize-giving ceremony, in the form of a lecture, is held in the spring of the following year, giving rise to some conflicting reports of dates even in the University's news releases. The subsequent recipients of the prize, awarded first for the year 1993 to Thomas, have been:

Information about the latest Lewis Thomas Prize[edit]


  1. ^ The Lewis Thomas Award for Communications has also been awarded by the American College of Physicians since 1986. (Anne Woodlief, "Lewis Thomas")
  2. ^ Rockefeller University press release:"Lewis Thomas Prize Honors Freeman Dyson"
  3. ^ Rockefeller University news release, "French Nobelist, Author, to Receive 1994 Lewis Thomas Prize from Rockefeller University
  4. ^ Rockefeller University news release, "Lewis Thomas Prize Honors Freeman Dyson"
  5. ^ Rockefeller University news release, "Lewis Thomas Prize Honors Max Perutz"
  6. ^ Rockefeller University news release, "Lewis Thomas Prize Honors Ernst Mayr"
  7. ^ Rockefeller University news release "Oliver Sacks, Awakenings Author, Receives Rockefeller University's Lewis Thomas Prize"
  8. ^ Rockefeller University news release
  9. ^ Rockefeller University news release "Renowned French neuroscientist Jean-Pierre Changeux receives Rockefeller University’s science writing prize"
  10. ^ Rockefeller University news release, "Thomas Eisner to receive 2005 Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science"
  11. ^ Rockefeller University news release, "Richard Dawkins accepts 2006 Lewis Thomas Prize"
  12. ^ Rockefeller University press release, "Rockefeller University names Robert Sapolsky 2008 Lewis Thomas Prize winner"
  13. ^ Rockefeller University news release, "Rockefeller University names Martin Rees 2009 Lewis Thomas Prize winner"
  14. ^ Rockefeller University news release, "Psychologist and author Kay Redfield Jamison awarded 2012 Lewis Thomas Prize"
  15. ^ See Singing the Body Electric
  16. ^ See The Doctor as Writer, The Writer as Doctor
  17. ^ Rockefeller University news release, "Lewis Thomas Prize to honor mathematicians Steven Strogatz and Ian Stewart"
  18. ^ Rockefeller University news release, "Lewis Thomas Prize to be awarded to Sean B. Carroll"
  19. ^ Rockefeller University event page for the presentation of the 2017 Lewis Thomas Prize