Two US biochemists and an Israeli colleague leading research into pain relief were awarded Spain's prestigious Prince of Asturias prize for scientific and technical research on Wednesday.
David Julius and Linda Watkins from the United States and Baruch Minke from Israel were "scientific leaders in the battle against pain", the jury said in a statement.
It praised the prizewinners' work in uncovering "the causes and mechanisms via which pain is produced and perceived, as well as other sensations such as cold, heat and taste."
"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."
Minke said he was "deeply honored and grateful" to receive the award along with his two colleagues.
"This prize is a tribute indicating the relevance and importance of our independent scientific work to advance the welfare of mankind," he said in a statement issued in Jerusalem.
Last year the Asturias science prize was won by US engineers Raymond Samuel Tomlinson and Martin Cooper for their work on email and mobile phone technology.
The Asturias foundation annually hands out eight awards, each worth 50,000 euros (61,000 dollars) in the fields of communication and humanities, scientific and technical research, social science, arts, letters, international cooperation, understanding and sport.
Named after Crown Prince Felipe, the awards are presented in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo, capital of the northern Asturias region, in a glittering ceremony broadcast live on Spanish television.