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University of Iowa News Release

June 27, 2005

Damasio Receives Major International Award

Antonio Damasio, M.D., Ph.D., the Maurice Van Allen Professor of Neurology and head of the department at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, has received the 2005 Prince of Asturias Award for Scientific and Technical Research. The award was announced June 22 and will be presented in October in Oviedo, Spain.

The Prince of Asturias Awards acknowledge scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanitarian work of international scope. One award in each of eight categories is granted annually by The Prince of Asturias Foundation, and the awards are presented by H.R.H. the Prince of Asturias, who is the Foundation's honorary president and heir to the throne of Spain. Each award includes a sculpture donated by Joan Miro and 50,000 euros in prize money.

Damasio was chosen unanimously by the 21-member jury for the award from among 58 candidates from 23 countries to receive this year's Award for Scientific and Technical Research. Past recipients of the prize include genome researchers Francis Collins and Craig Venter, AIDS researchers Joseph Gallo and Luc Montaignier, and physicist Stephen Hawking. For more information about the awards, visit

Damasio is internationally known for his studies on the neurobiology of the mind. His research has led to a greater understanding of how the brain orchestrates higher-level cognitive functions such as language, memory, emotion and decision-making, and helped explain how damage to particular brain regions affects these functions. By providing important insights into the cerebral bases of language and memory, his research also has improved understanding of neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

Damasio's career at the UI has spanned almost three decades, and he has led the Department of Neurology since 1986. In that time the UI has developed an international reputation for excellence in many areas of neuroscience, ranging from basic research on cognition to clinical studies of neurological diseases including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's disease, and stroke. In the fall of this year, Damasio will leave the UI to take up the directorship of the University of Southern California's Institute for the Brain Study of Emotion and Creativity.

During his tenure at the UI, Damasio has received many honors and awards for his research, including membership in the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and also of the European Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received Finland's Reenpaa Prize in Neuroscience (2000), the Arnold Pfeffer Prize (2002), the Nonino Prize (2003) and the Signoret Prize in Cognitive Neuroscience (2004), which he shared with his wife Hanna Damasio, M.D. He also is a knight of Portugal's Order of Santiago da Espada.

Damasio earned a medical degree and a doctoral degree at the University of Lisbon in his native Portugal. In addition to almost 200 research papers published in peer-reviewed science journals, Damasio also has written several acclaimed books that make his work and the field of cognitive and behavioral neuroscience accessible to the wider public. These books include "Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain" (1994), "the Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness" (1999) and "Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow and the Feeling Brain" (2003).

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5135 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, (319) 335-9917

PHOTOS: A photo of Dr. Damasio is available from Jennifer Brown,