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American, Israeli biochemists win Spanish Asturias prize for their work on pain

MADRID (AP) — Two American biochemists and another from Israel were awarded one of Spain's Prince of Asturias awards Wednesday for their research into the workings of pain.

The Prince of Asturias Foundation said Americans David Julius and Linda Watkins and Israel's Baruch Minke were granted the 2010 award for technical and scientific research.

The foundation said the three were individually recognized by the scientific community as world leaders in sensorial neurobiology.

Professors in separate universities, the three "have discovered, from complementary approaches, the causes and mechanisms via which pain is produced and perceived, as well as other sensations such as cold, heat and taste," the prize organizers said in a statement.

"The findings of these scientists open up new and hopeful avenues for the rational design of specific therapies and drugs for the selective treatment of the different types of pain, one of the great medical challenges of all times," the foundation added.

Julius, is from New York and is chair of the Department of Physiology at the University of California while Watkins, from Norfolk, Virginia, is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Colorado. Minke, from Tel Aviv, is Professor of Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Their candidacy for the award was proposed by Mexican scientist Ricardo Miledi and backed by several Nobel laureates, the foundation said.

Eight Asturias awards are granted each year in categories including arts, literature, communications, sports and scientific research. The awards are among Spain's most prestigious and are presented by Prince Felipe each fall in Oviedo.

The prizes include cash stipends of $50,000 ($70,000) and a sculpture by artist Joan Miro.

American engineers, Raymond Tomlinson and Martin Cooper, who were instrumental in developing e-mail and mobile phones, respectively, won the scientific research award in 2010.