, Volume 253, Issue 9, pp 1246-1247
Date: 21 Sep 2006

Sir Thomas Lewis MD, FRS. (1881–1945)

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Sir Thomas Lewis1 is one of the great names of 20th century investigative medicine. Many of his cardiovascular studies had and still have a bearing on neurological practice. He was the son of a Cardiff colliery owner. The conjuring tricks of two visiting family doctors amused the boy, sparking his belief that if he studied medicine he’d be able to compete with their conjuring skills. He read medicine at University College Hospital (UCH), where he took a BSc. Class I, before graduating in 1904. Invited by Leonard Hill to write a paper on the pulse, he began his researches. In 1909, he discovered ‘auricular fibrillation’ as the basis for the irregular heart action, noted by Sir James Mackenzie. (Fig. 1) Fig. 1

Sir Thomas Lewis

The long established importance of atrial fibrillation in embolic strokes remains to this day [2]. A series of studies began in 1912, when Lewis extended the applications of the electrocardiogram discovered by his friend, William Einthoven. At UCH, Lewis first record