Van Lommel is best known for his scientific work on the subjects of near-death experiences and consciousness, including a prospective study published in the medical journal The Lancet. He is also the author of the 2007 Dutch book titled Endless Consciousness: A scientific approach to the near-death experience (Eindeloos Bewustzijn: een wetenschappelijke visie op de Bijna-Dood Ervaring), which has been translated to German, English, French and Spanish (English translation: Consciousness Beyond Life, The Science of the Near-Death Experience”, Harper Collins, 2010).
In his book Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience, he postulates a model where consciousness is beyond neurological activities of the brain. He suggests that the brain is merely a terminal for accessing consciousness which is non-local (i.e. situated outside the physical body). In this model the brain is analogous to a computer terminal accessing a mainframe or the internet. He further hypothesizes that non-coding DNA and quantum mechanics would make such non-local access possible and this model can explain how near-death experiences can be experienced and remembered by people whose brain had no measurable activity.
Van Lommel studied medicine at Utrecht University, specializing in cardiology. He worked as a cardiologist at the Rijnstate Hospital, Arnhem, for 26 years (1977-2003).