Lewis Kay received an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of Alberta in 1983 and a doctorate degree in biophysics at Yale in 1988. He was a post-doctoral fellow in chemical physics at the National Institute of Health from June 1988–November 1991 and subsequently joined the faculty at the University of Toronto. He was assistant professor from 1992–1994 and subsequently appointed full professor of molecular genetics, biochemistry and chemistry.
Kay has won many awards including Merck Frosst Award, the Flavelle Medal from the Royal Society of Canada, Founders Medal from the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Biological Systems, Canada's Top 40 Under 40 Award, Premier’s Discovery Award, Province of Ontario and the Steacie Prize from the National Research Council of Canada. He is a fellow of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance. He was also listed in ISI’s database of Highly Cited Researchers - top 0.5% of most cited chemists in the world in 2005. Kay was a member Editorial Board of Journal of Biomolecular NMR and the Editorial Advisory Board ofBiochemistry.