Oliver Sacks, a neurologist who gained fame for his books examining mysterious and unusual brain disorders, has died at 82, The New York Times reports.
Born in London in 1933, Sacks received a medical degree from Queen's College Oxford and moved to America in the 1960s to continue his studies, ultimately doing his residency at the University of California, Los Angeles.
He later moved to New York to begin his clinical career at Beth Abraham Hospital in the Bronx, where he treated catatonic patients who had a mysterious "sleeping sickness" with an experimental drug that had profound, albeit temporary, effects. These patients formed the basis for Sacks' first book, "Awakenings," which was later made into an Academy Award-winning film.
Sacks viewed himself as "a naturalist or explorer," the Times notes. In a 1984 book recounting his experiences recovering from muscle surgery, he wrote, "I had explored many strange, neuropsychological lands — the furthest Arctics and Tropics of neurological disorder."
That exploration resulted in a number of other best-selling books, including "An Anthropologist on Mars," about autistic savants; "The Mind's Eye," about how people compensate for brain injuries; and "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat," about a man whose brain lost the ability to interpret what his eyes were seeing.
Earlier this year, Sacks revealed in a Times editorial that he had been diagnosed with an ocular melanoma that had metastasized to his liver. In the Op-Ed, he reflected on his life and impeding death.
"I cannot pretend I am without fear," he wrote. "But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.
"Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."