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Author and Neurologist Oliver Sacks Dies at 82

Oliver Sacks, the famous neurologist who made complex medical ideas accessible to the many readers of his celebrated books, has passed away. Sacks died of cancer in his New York City home. He was 82 years old.

Sacks was born in London and raised in England. He moved to North America after graduating from Oxford, living first in Canada and then in the United States. He was further educated at UCLA and moved to New York City in the 1960s, where he made his name as a skilled neurologist.

Starting the 1970s, Sacks rose to prominence as a writer. He is the author of several popular books on medicine, including Awakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat and The Island of the Colorblind. Awakenings, perhaps his most famous work, tells the story of encephalitis patients who Sacks was able to help bring back from a catatonic state that had lasted decades. The book later inspired the Harold Pinter play “A Kind of Alaska,” and the story got the Hollywood treatment in 1990’s. The film version, also titled Awakenings, starred Robert De Niro and Robin Williams, and it was nominated for three Oscars.

Sacks first announced his illness via an op-ed piece in The New York Times in February. You can read his obituary here.

Main image courtesy of Adam Scourfield/BBC/AP Photo