Kandel, Eric R. 1929–

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Kandel, Eric R. 1929–


Born November 7, 1929, in Vienna, Austria; son of Herman (a store owner) and Charlotte Kandel; married Denise Bystryn (a professor), 1956; children: Paul, Minouche. Education: Harvard Col- lege, B.A., 1952; New York University School of Medicine, M.D., 1956.


Home—New York, NY. Office—Department of Neuroscience, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University, 1051 Riverside Dr., Rm. 668 Annex, New York, NY 10032; fax: 212-543-5474. E-mail—[email protected].


Educator and writer. National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, researcher, 1957-60; Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA, resident, 1960-62; laboratory of Ladislav Tauc, Paris, France, research scientist, 1962-63; Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA, instructor in psychiatry, 1963-65; New York University Medical School, Department of Physiology and Psychiatry, New York, NY, 1965-73; Columbia University, New York, NY, researcher, professor, and founding director of the Department of Neuroscience, 1973-84, university professor, 1984—, senior investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute, 1984—, Fred Kavli Professor and director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science.


National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society, National Institute of Medicine, Order of Merit for Arts and Sciences (Germany), Academie des Sciences (France).


Lester N. Hofheimer Prize for Research, American Psychiatric Association, 1977; Karl Spencer Lashley Prize in Neurobiology, American Philosophical Society, 1981; Dickson Prize in Biology and Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, 1982; Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, 1983; Rosenstiel Award, Brandeis University, 1984; Howard Crosy Warren Medal, Society of Experimental Psychologists, 1984; American Association of Medical Colleges Award for Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences, 1985; Gairdner International Award of Canada for Outstanding Research in the Biomedical Sciences, 1987; National Medal of Science, 1988; J. Murray Luck Award for Scientific Reviewing, National Academy of Sciences, 1988; American College of Physicians Award in Basic Science, 1989; Robert J. and Claire Pasarow Foundation Award in Neuroscience, 1989; Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience Research, 1991; Warren Triennial Prize, Massachusetts General Hospital, 1992; Harvey Prize of the Technion in Haifa, 1993; Stevens Triennial Prize, Columbia University, 1995; Dana Award, 1997; Dr. A.H. Heineken Prize for Medicine from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam, 2000; Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (with Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard), 2000; Centenary Medal, Royal Society of Canada, 2002; Julius Axelrod Neuroscience Award (with Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard), 2002; Honorary Fellow and Distinguished Service in Psychiatry Award, American College of Psychiatrists, both 2003; Salmon Award, New York Academy of Medicine, 2003; Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate Award, Smithsonian Associates and Creativity Foundation, 2004; David Dean Brockman Lectureship Award, American College of Psychoanalysts, 2004; Austrian Medal of Honour for Science and Art, Republic of Austria, 2005; Biotechnology Achievement Award, New York University School of Medicine, 2006; Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Sciences, American Philosophical Society, 2006; McKnight Foundation Recognition Award, McKnight Conference for Neuroscience, 2006; Louise T. Blouin Creativity Foundation Award, 2006; McGovern Prize, Cosmos Club, 2007; National Academies Communication Award for book of the year and Los Angeles Times Book Prize for In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind, 2007. Honorary degrees from University of Vienna, University of Edinburgh, University of Turin, University of Montreal, New York University, University College of London, Rockefeller University, Jewish Theological Seminary, and Weitzmann Institute in Israel.


Cellular Basis of Behavior: An Introduction to Behavioral Neurobiology, W.H. Freeman (San Francisco, CA), 1976.

A Cell-Biological Approach to Learning, Society for Neuroscience (Bethesda, MD), 1978.

Behavioral Biology of Aplysia: A Contribution to the Comparative Study of Opisthobranch Molluscs, W.H. Freeman (San Francisco, CA), 1979.

(Editor, with James G. Schwartz) Principles of Neural Science, Elsevier North Holland (New York, NY), 1981, 3rd edition (with James G. Schwartz and Thomas M. Jessell), 1991.

(Editor) Molecular Neurobiology in Neurology and Psychiatry, Raven Press (New York, NY), 1987.

Essentials of Neural Science and Behavior, Appleton & Lange (Norwalk, CT), 1995.

(With Larry R. Squire) Memory: From Mind to Molecules, Scientific American Library (New York, NY), 1999.

Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and the New Biology of Mind, American Psychiatric Publishing (Washington, DC), 2005.

In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to Cell, Science, and Current Biology.


Eric R. Kandel is a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who has also written several award-winning books in the areas of neuroscience, psychiatry, and psychology. Kandel was born in Austria and lived through the Nazi invasion of that country in the 1930s. A personal witness to the horrors of Kristallnacht, the destruction of thousands of Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues on November 9 and 10, 1938, Kandel escaped Austria with his parents and brother before World War II began, and the family settled in the United States. Kandel went on to attend Harvard College, where he earned a degree in European history and made a friendship with a young Austrian student that would forever shape his professional destiny. The parents of Anna Kris were prominent psychoanalysts and personal friends of Sigmund Freud, widely considered to be the father of psychoanalysis. Time spent with the Kris family instilled in Kandel a deep interest in the field, and he was inspired to attend medical school in order to earn a degree in psychiatry.

Kandel went on to enjoy an illustrious career as a neuroscientist, ultimately becoming the founding director of Columbia University's Center for Neurobiology and Behavior. It was at Columbia that Kandel was inspired to create a textbook to aid students in their study of neural science. He explained in a biography posted on the Nobel Prize Web site: "In college and medical school I was never a good note-taker. I always preferred sitting back, enjoying the lecture, and just scribbling down a few words here and there. When I came to Columbia to develop the neural science course, I was struck by how much energy students were devoting to writing out every single word of lectures, and I wanted to help them get over that." The result was the text book, Principles of Neural Science, edited with James G. Schwartz, and widely used at the undergraduate and graduate level. Kandel continued: "Our textbook was the first attempt to bridge cell and molecular biology to neural science and neural science to behavior and clinical states."

In 2006, six years after winning (with Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard) the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Kandel published an autobiography sharing details of his childhood in Nazi-occupied Austria, his Brooklyn schooling, his education as a scientist, and his illustrious career as a researcher. In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind was generally well received by critics. Many agreed that the early part of Kandel's memoir was exceptional. "By far the strongest part of the whole book are those sections where he describes events in Austria," wrote Popular Science Online contributor Brian Clegg, who added: "It's a tour-de-force as a popular science book by a scientist, and should be recommended reading for anyone interested in the brain." A reviewer for the Economist commented: "The weaving of science and memoir, in a clear and unadorned style, is especially effective in the first half of the book. In the latter half, long sections on the biotechnology industry and on Austrian anti-Semitism break up the chronology, and the book becomes harder to follow." In a review in Publishers Weekly, a critic described the book as a "fascinating portrait of a scientist's formation: learning to trust his instincts on what research to pursue and how to pose a researchable question and formulate an experiment." Sherwin B. Nuland took particular note of Kandel's "ability to weave seamlessly into the narrative his explications of some of the most fundamental precepts upon which contemporary biological research is based, so that a reader comes to understand their unifying themes." He added in his review for the New York Times Book Review: "If there is another book that does a better job of demonstrating how biological research is done, or of telling the story of a brilliant scientist's career, I don't know it."



Economist, March 4, 2006, "Proustian Moments; Science of the Mind," review of In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind, p. 78.

New York Times Book Review, April 9, 2006, Sherwin B. Nuland, "The Secret Life of the Mind," review of In Search of Memory, p. 14.

Publishers Weekly, February 6, 2006, review of In Search of Memory, p. 62.


Nobel Prize Web site,http://www.nobelprize.org/ (October 11, 2007), profile of Eric R. Kandel.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Web site,http://www.hhmi.org/ (December 19, 2007), profile of Eric R. Kandel.

Popular Science Online,http://www.popularscience.co.uk/ (October 11, 2007), review of In Search of Memory.