Bio & Awards

rec-head1x3Richard E. Cytowic, MD, MFA is best known for bringing synesthesia back to mainstream science after decades of disbelief. When he first rediscovered it in 1979 neurology colleagues dismissed synesthesia as bogus, warning that it was “too weird, too New Age” and would “ruin” his career — a typical reaction of orthodoxy to what it doesn’t understand.

Today, synesthesia is recognized as fundamental to understanding the human mind as well as the human condition. How do we understand alternate points–of–view and others not like us? How do non–synesthetes understand cross–sensory metaphors like “loud color” or “sweet person?” These are just some of the questions raised by this unusual perceptual trait.

Richard speaks widely to audiences in the arts as well as the sciences. Past invitations include the Library of Congress, NASA, IBM, the Smithsonian, Tokyo Fragrance Foundation, Istanbul Biennale, Hirshhorn Museum, Turin Museum of Modern Art, and other cultural institutions and concert performances.

He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from American University. An alumnus of Duke, Wake Forest, London’s National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, and George Washington Universities, he is currently Clinical Professor of Neurology at George Washington University.

Honors and Awards:

  • Artist Fellowship Award, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanaties, 2015, 2018
  • Montaigne Medal, Eric Hoffer Book Awards 2011
    • Wednesday is Indigo Blue
  • Pulitzer Prize Nomination 1982
    • “The Long Ordeal of James Brady,” NY Times Magazine Cover Story
  • Irwin Brody Award for History of Neuroscience: Duke Medical Center
    • “Aphasia in Maurice Ravel” 1978
  • Alumnus of the Year, Hun School of Princeton 2007

Artist Colony Fellowships:

  • Southampton Writers Conference with Emily Mann (playwriting), Roger Rosenblatt (essay), and Matthew Klam (nonfiction).
  • Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Artist Colony award.
  • Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Amherst, VA, 1991–2018
  • Hambidge Center for Creative Arts, Rabun Gap, GA, 1987–1989

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