Eric R. Kandel is University Professor at Columbia, Fred Kavli Professor and Director, Kavli Institute for Brain Science, and a Senior Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He received the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying learning and memory.
With the nervous system of a sea slug as the experimental model, he has demonstrated changes of synaptic function are central for learning, short and long-term memory. His research not only enriched scientific understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms; he has given hope for more refined and effective treatment of learning disorders, memory impairment, and many psychiatric illnesses. Kandel is a recipient of many honors including the Lasker Award (1983), National Medal of Science (1988), and Wolf Prize (1999). Along with publishing many neuroscience textbooks, his memoir, In Search of Memory, received the National Academy of Sciences Communication Award for Science Book of the Year in 2007.
Born in Vienna, Austria, Kandel earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard and then a medical degree from New York University School of Medicine. He held faculty position at Harvard Medical School and the New York University School of Medicine from 1962 to 1974 and then moved to Columbia University as founding director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior. He is Kavli Professor, a senior investigator of Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and a Co-Director of Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia University.
In this special interview, Dr. Kandel discusses his life and career, his groundbreaking and continuing research into learning and memory, and the frontier of neuroscience.