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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 Universitymarker to scientists deemed to have accomplished a significant literary achievement: it "recognizes scientists as poets". The award was established in 1993 and is endowed with a nominal US$5,000 purse that scarcely reflects the prestige the award carries. 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:


  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 press release:"Lewis Thomas Prize Honors Freeman Dyson"
  4. Rockefeller University press release, "Lewis Thomas Prize Honors Ernst Mayr"
  5. Rockefeller University press release "Oliver Sacks, Awakenings Author, Receives Rockefeller University's Lewis Thomas Prize"
  6. Rockefeller University new release
  7. Rockefeller University press releae
  8. Cornell University press release, "Eisner wins Lewis Thomas Prize"
  9. Rockefeller University news release "Richard Dawkins accepts 2006 Lewis Thomas Prize"

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