Top 17 Famous Scientists With ADHD That You May Not Know

Top 17 Famous Scientists With ADHD That You May Not Know

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To celebrate scientists and scientific advancements, we have collected a list of the most famous scientists with Adhd that will inspire us for the greater good.

Approximately 9.4% of school-going children in the United States struggle daily with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While most people think that ADHD only affects those under the age of 17, 4% of adults are reportedly diagnosed with this disorder daily.

ADHD is a mental health condition in which a person may suffer from learning difficulties, trouble concentrating, hyperactivity, or impulsiveness. Other than learning disabilities, those with this condition may have trouble with time management.

People with ADHD aren’t smarter than others as it has no direct influence on intelligence. The good news is that you can use therapy, stimulant medication, or both to reduce ADHD symptoms and live a much better life.

We explored several biographies and compared the information with major publications such as the National Institute of Mental Health and the ADDitude magazine to bring you a list of the successful people who struggled with ADHD in their lives.

Let’s get started!

Famous Scientists With ADHD

#17. Harvey Cushing (1869-1939): The Father of Neurosurgery 

Famous Scientists With ADHD : Credits: The Famous People
Credits: The Famous People

What makes Harvey Cushing famous?

Harvey Williams Cushing was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1869. He is best known for his pioneering work in brain surgery. Cushing was the first doctor to identify Cushing’s disease. 

Cushing also wrote the biography of one of John Hopkins Hospital’s founding professors, William Olser. Cushing was one of the famous medical scientists believed to have had ADHD.

[Source: National Library of Medicine]

#16. Wilbur Wright (1867-1912): One of The Two Scientists Who Built And Flew The First Airplane

Famous Scientists With ADHD : Credits: The Famous People
Credits: The Famous People

What makes Wilbur Wright famous?

Wilbur Wright was an American aviation pioneer born in 1867 in Indiana.  He was also a member of the Wrights Brothers with his brother Orville, making him one of aviation’s most important figures. They were the inventors of the first successful airplane in the world.

The Wrights were well-known for their achievements in aviation and had a lot more than just a single plane. They developed a control system for flights and built many other machines along their journey: bicycles and even airplanes.

One interesting fact about Wilbur Wright is that he had ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

[Source: NASA]

#15. Scott Kelly (1964-present): An Astronaut Who Spent A One Year Mission At The International Space Station 

Famous Scientists With ADHD : Credits: Time
Credits: Time

What makes Scott Kelly famous?

Scott Kelly is a retired NASA astronaut who was born in 1964 in Orange, New Jersey. He’s best known for spending almost a year in space and for being one of the Americans who stayed there for the longest period.

He is also known for being one of the few who have opened up about their struggles with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

[Source: Scott Kelly]

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#14. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642): Father of Observational Astronomy 

Famous Scientists With ADHD : Credits: Vatican Observatory
Credits: Vatican Observatory

What makes Galileo Galilei famous?

Galileo Galilei was an Italian polymath who is best known for his contributions to the field of observational astronomy. He made significant discoveries regarding the nature of celestial bodies, including the phases of Venus, Saturn’s rings, and lunar craters. 

Galileo also discovered that the earth revolves around the sun—which was considered heresy at the time. As an engineer, he also developed a thermoscope and military compasses that could be used in any weather condition. These accomplishments earned him a place in history as one of the most important scientists of all time.

Although Galileo had ADHD-like traits like impulsivity, he wasn’t diagnosed. The term “ADHD” did not exist during his lifetime.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#13. Ted Nelson (1937-present): Pioneer of Hypertext

Famous Scientists With ADHD : Credits: Quartz
Credits: Quartz

What makes Ted Nelson famous?

Ted Nelson is a man who can make you feel like you’re traveling through time and space with him. His work in computer science is so far-reaching that it’s hard to believe that he wasn’t born in the 21st century.

You can tell that he’s seen and done things that made him question how we look at information and how we process it. He has the mind of an explorer, and his passion for the future is contagious.

Born in Chicago, Ted Nelson is a man of many hats. He’s a sociologist, computer scientist, philosopher, and writer. Nelson is also a literary romantic who thinks of himself as an American Orson Welles of software.

He is famous for coming up with the terms hypermedia, hypertext, intertwingularity, virtuality, and translucation. These terms are important to computer science as they relate to how we interact with information.

Ted Nelson also has an extensive history of Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD).

What is the best Ted Nelson quote?

“Learning to program has no more to do with designing interactive software than learning to touch type has to do with writing poetry.”

[Source: Ted Nelson]

#12. Bill Gates (1955-present): Microsoft Co-Founder

Famous Scientists With ADHD : Credits: Business Insider
Credits: Business Insider

What makes Bill Gates famous?

Bill Gates was born in 1955 in Seattle, Washington. He is one of the most prominent business magnates of all time and is the 4th world’s richest man as of June 6, 2022.

Gates and his friend Paul Allen founded Microsoft together. The company soon became a worldwide success that would change how people interacted with technology— from phones to computers to operating systems.

Besides Microsoft, Bill Gates co-founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

But did you know he has ADHD? While it’s true that he has struggled with his own ADHD in school, he has been able to overcome it by using his incredible brainpower to create something amazing: a company that has made him incredibly wealthy.

What is the best Bill Gates quote?

“Success is a lousy teacher, it seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

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#11. Sir John B. Gurdon (1933-present): The Father of Cloning

Famous Scientists With ADHD : Credits: Encyclopedia Britannica
Credits: Encyclopedia Britannica

What makes Sir John B. Gurdon famous?

John Gurdon made a name for himself in the scientific community for his work on Stem cells-which earned him a Nobel Prize in 2012. 

He was born on October 2, 1933, in Surrey, England. He earned his Ph.D. from Caltech and worked at Cambridge University as a zoology lecturer.

John Gurdon is best known for having proved that it’s possible to transfer a nucleus from one cell to another. This was a huge breakthrough in the field of biology, and it opened up the possibility of cloning organisms. Despite his numerous achievements, Gurdon struggled with ADHD.

[Source: The Nobel Prize]

#10. Thomas Edison (1847-1931): World’s Greatest Inventor

Famous Scientists With ADHD : Credits: ThoughtCo
Credits: ThoughtCo

What makes Thomas Edison famous?

Thomas Edison, born in Ohio, USA, is best known for his many contributions to the world of business, industry, and science. He established one of the first research labs in the United States. This helped him discover amazing things in motion pictures, sound recording, mass communication, and electric power generation.

Inventive genius Thomas Edison is credited with inventing the electric light bulb, motion picture camera,  phonograph, and telegraph system that allowed communication over long distances. These inventions have revolutionized society as we know it today.

Thomas Edison has also been called “The Wizard of Menlo Park” because he pioneered a new age of technology that has profoundly impacted our daily lives. He, however, showed symptoms such as hearing loss which has since been attributed to ADHD. 

What is the best Thomas Edison quote?

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up “

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#9. Nikola Tesla (1856-1943): A Man Ahead of His Time

Famous Scientists With ADHD : Credits:

What makes Nikola Tesla famous?

Nikola Tesla is one of the most famous inventors and engineers in history. He was born in 1856 in what is now Croatia, and he died in 1943. He is best known for his contributions to the modern alternating current (AC) system, making electric power available to homes and businesses everywhere.

He invented the tesla coil, a device that produces high voltage and low amperage. This allowed him to create lightning-fast motors and transmitters.

You might be wondering what this has to do with ADHD. Tesla had ADHD, which didn’t prevent him from being an inventive genius, just like we’ve on this list.

[Source: The Smithsonian Magazine]

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#8. Michael Faraday (1791-1867): The Father of Electricity

Famous Scientists With ADHD : Credits: ThoughtCo
Credits: ThoughtCo

What makes Michael Faraday famous?

Born in England, Michael Faraday was the first to propose that electricity and magnetism are related. He made this discovery in 1831 when he found that a magnet can affect a current of electricity.

Faraday discovered electromagnetism while experimenting with magnetic fields to understand how electricity worked. 

He also developed the concept of induction (also known as electromagnetic induction), which explains how electricity can be generated through mechanical motion rather than chemical reactions—an important discovery at the time because it meant there would be no need for batteries anymore.

Faraday also did important research on chemical sciences and discovered benzene. He also invented an early version of a Bunsen burner for studying gases. Although Faraday struggled with dyslexia, he went on to receive the 1902 Nobel Prize for his contributions to Physics.

What is the best Michael Faraday quote?

“But still try, for who knows what is possible?”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica ]

#7. Louis Pasteur (1822-1895): The Father of Microbiology Who Saved Millions of Lives

Famous Scientists With ADHD : Credits: Pasteur Brewing
Credits: Pasteur Brewing

What makes Louis Pasteur famous?

Louis Pasteur was a French microbiologist and chemist who is best known for his work on microbial fermentation, pasteurization, and vaccination. He was one of the famous scientists who lived with ADHD.

Pasteur’s most famous achievement was developing principles of microbial fermentation, which still helps in disease prevention. He also created a vaccine for rabies that has saved millions of lives worldwide.

Pasteur also disproved Aristotle’s theory of spontaneous generation by showing that germs were responsible for disease rather than the idea that germs could arise from non-living matter.

What is the best Louis Pasteur quote?

“Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world.”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica] 

#6. Stephen Hawking (1942-2018): One of The Greatest Scientists of Our Time

Famous Scientists With ADHD : Credits: Daily News Egypt
Credits: Daily News Egypt

What makes Stephen Hawking famous?

Stephen Hawking was a man who made an indelible mark on the world. He was born in 1942 in England and is best known for his work in theoretical physics.

He contributed to the study of the universe by focusing on its origin and structure, which continues to appeal to millions of people worldwide.

In addition to being a brilliant scientist, Stephen Hawking was also an avid writer. His books continue to appeal to millions of readers globally.

Stephen Hawking had ADD (attention deficit disorder) and ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica ]

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#5. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790): An Inventor & One of The United States Founding Fathers 

Famous Scientists With ADHD : Credits: Addicted 2 Success
Credits: Addicted 2 Success

What makes Benjamin Franklin famous?

Benjamin Franklin was born in Massachusetts Bay in 1706 and went to Boston Latin School.

He is one of the most well-known and influential people in US history. Franklin is known for being an inventor, scientist, statesman, and diplomat. 

He left behind a trail of inventions, discoveries, and achievements. His life is so rich with history that it could be made into an entire TV series.

He is famous for his work as a statesman—he signed the Declaration of Independence and was named America’s first Postmaster General. His scientific contributions included the bifocals, lightning rod, and the Franklin Stove.

Benjamin Franklin is among the most famous people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in history.

What is the best Benjamin Franklin quote?

“When you’re good to others, you’re best to yourself.”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#4. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519): The Painter Who Had a Knack For Science

Famous Scientists With ADHD : Credits: Encyclopedia Britannica
Credits: Encyclopedia Britannica

What makes Leonardo da Vinci famous?

Leonardo da Vinci was a polymath- an artist, an engineer, and a scientist.

The Italian lived during the High Renaissance, which was a time of great innovation in art, science, and engineering. He was also a painter whose most famous piece is The Mona Lisa. It has been called one of the most recognizable paintings in history because of its iconic status as well as its beauty. 

Leonardo’s other notable paintings include significant pieces such as The Last Supper and Salvator Mundi. He also drew numerous sketches depicting inventions such as helicopters or tanks—only five of which have survived today.

He is best known for his contributions to anatomy, hydrodynamics, optics, and engineering, among others. Although these works were not published during his lifetime, they laid the foundation for future research into those fields.

While many people know that Leonardo da Vinci had ADHD since he exhibited symptoms of it during his lifetime.

What is the best Leonardo da Vinci quote?

“Learning is the only thing that the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets.”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#3. Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727): The Man Who Formulated The Laws of Motion

Famous Scientists With ADHD : Credits: Encyclopedia Britannica
Credits: Encyclopedia Britannica

What makes Sir Isaac Newton famous?

Sir Isaac Newton was an English scientist and mathematician. He is best known for his contributions to astronomy, physics, and optics and his many other works that extended throughout the 18th century.

His contributions to astronomy were enormous. He was one of the first scientists to suggest that the earth is an oblate spheroid rather than a spherical object. Newton’s work on optics revolutionized how we see things in space. His invention of the reflecting telescope helped him study the solar system. 

Newton’s laws of motion were important in understanding how objects move on Earth. He discovered that a body at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force, while a body in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.

For these discoveries and more, Sir Isaac Newton is one of the scientists who founded modern physics, astronomy, and mathematics despite having symptoms of ADHD.

What is the best Sir Isaac Newton quote?

“What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean.”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#2. Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922): The Man Who Invented Telephone

Famous Scientists With ADHD : Credits: Encyclopedia Britannica
Credits: Encyclopedia Britannica

What makes Alexander Graham Bell famous?

Alexander Graham Bell, born in 1847 in Edinburgh, Scotland, was one of the most important inventors in history. He developed the world’s first practical telephone, which revolutionized global communication. 

Bell also contributed to hydrofoils, optical telecommunications, and aeronautics. In addition to being a pioneer in these fields, he helped establish one of the world’s largest companies: AT & T (American Telephone and Telegraph Company.

Bell was a brilliant scientist who struggled with ADHD throughout his childhood and adult years. He was known for being forgetful and impulsive—two traits that would later become traits associated with people with ADHD.

What is the best Alexander Graham Bell quote?

“The only difference between success and failure is the ability to take action.”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#1. Albert Einstein (1879-1955): The Father of Modern Physics 

Famous Scientists With ADHD : Credits: Biography
Credits: Biography

What makes Albert Einstein famous?

Born in Germany, Einstein is best known for his contributions to modern physics through his work on quantum mechanics and relativity. Not only did he develop the theory of relativity, but he also developed one of the most famous equations of all time: the mass-energy equivalence. He came up with the laws of photoelectric effects, which earned him a Nobel Prize in 1921.

Did you know that Einstein also had ADHD? He showed signs of ADHD as much as he showed signs of intelligence—he was forgetful, disorganized, and forgetful. It’s kind of crazy that we don’t know more about this man’s life story—because it sounds like a fascinating one.

What is the best Albert Einstein quote?

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

[Source: Nobel Prize]

Final Thoughts

Even with the current information, we shouldn’t discount the theory that some of history’s greatest minds had traits of ADHD. Certainly, research needs to continue to make solid conclusions, but it seems fairly clear that our country needs to put more effort into ADHD diagnosis.

We hope that the lives of these famous people with ADHD will inspire you to study if you are struggling with ADHD today. Who else do you think we should have added to this list? Let us know in the comment section below.

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SJ Tsai
As the Chief Editor at, Shen Ju Tsai (SJ) plays a pivotal role in shaping the platform's content and ensuring its relevance to the scientific community. SJ spearheads the meticulous work of keyword research, content planning, and content creation, collaborating closely with a dedicated team of writers. It is under SJ's watchful eye that each piece of content is validated, refined, and managed to uphold the high standards of In addition to content responsibilities, SJ oversees the crucial task of updating the journal database annually. This involves working in unison with a developer to ensure the most accurate and latest information on over 30,000 science journals is accessible to users. Beyond content and database management, SJ also manages affiliate marketing and advertising efforts, further expanding the reach and impact of Through these varied roles, SJ exemplifies a commitment to empowering the scientific community and enhancing the value offered by

5 thoughts on “Top 17 Famous Scientists With ADHD That You May Not Know”

  1. Hello Joannah-
    How wonderful to know how successful these scientists were in spite of their ADHD. Or maybe because of it, in great part???? I know how obsessive and tenacious people
    W/ ADHD are. How “hyper focused” they can be..In fact, I wonder if that is a necessary “requirement” to be an inventor of any sort: Someone who needs to try and fail, and repeat a thousand times over and over. Until practice makes right…
    Two questions:
    1. Your list is of very intelligent people. Any hope that ADHD affects favorably one’s intelligence?
    2. My daughter has a horrible time with science and math. She has ADHD.
    What a coincidence that all the people you list are math geniuses. I wish she had more of an aptitude for math and science! She often feels so stupid…She can’t figure it out. Althougjh she does write beautifully!!
    Would you hv a list of successful people in other principles that are not math and science only??

    Thank you!!

    • Thank you for reaching out to us with your question. We understand the importance of this topic and appreciate your feedback. It’s worth noting that while there isn’t a clear consensus on how ADHD affects intelligence, some studies have suggested that people with ADHD may have a heightened ability to hyperfocus, which could be beneficial in certain situations.

      Additionally, it’s important to remember that success can come in many forms and in many different fields. While the individuals on the list provided may primarily be known for their contributions in math and science, there are many successful individuals with ADHD in a variety of fields such as business, the arts, and sports. It’s important to remember that everyone has different strengths and interests, and it’s important to support and encourage your daughter in the areas in which she excels.

  2. Are you sure all of them ADHD?
    This is an exceptional and a mind blowing revelation.
    But could you please tell the foundation/source due to which you could certainly state that these people actually had ADHD
    We would all be very grateful

  3. Hi Joannah,

    My son was being kicked out from school due to his ADHD. Though it’s not diagnosed but rather an observation.

    The school couldn’t understand his tantrums and isolate him right away. They even advised us to enroll him to another school specializing for kids like him. So, I took him to a behavioral therapy and tutorial on the lessons that the school supposed to teach him. Now, he has some improvements on his behavior, he doesn’t throw things anymore every time he gets upset. The thing is, he cannot focus to study especially math but his so good at playing online games and sculpting anything from a clay dough.

    Just wanted to share my frustrations.
    Thanks for this blog. Big help.

    • Hey Ren,

      Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your experience. As a parent, it’s incredibly tough to see your child struggle, and I deeply empathize with what you’re going through. ADHD can certainly be a challenge, both for the individual and for those around them, but remember that it’s also associated with a number of positive traits, like creativity and a unique perspective on the world.

      It’s really heartening to hear that your son has made some improvements with his behavior through therapy. Every small step counts, and it sounds like he’s making strides. His love for online games and sculpting suggests a pronounced ability to focus when he’s truly engaged, a trait often seen in individuals with ADHD.

      This is a strength that can be harnessed in the right learning environment.

      Thank you for commenting!


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