Kandel, Eric Richard

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KANDEL, ERIC RICHARD (1929– ), neurophysiologist and Nobel laureate in physiology and medicine. Kandel was born in Vienna, Austria, and emigrated to the U.S. in April 1939 after a childhood experience of Nazi occupation which determined his life-long interest in behavior. After attending the Yeshiva of Flatbush elementary school, followed by Erasmus Hall High School, he majored in European history at Harvard before entering New York University Medical School with the initial intention of pursuing a career in psychiatry. An elective course at Columbia University with Harry Grundfest reinforced his decision to become a scientist. After graduation (1956) he joined the National Institutes of Health (nih), Bethesda (1957–60), and trained in clinical psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (1960–65), a period which included a seminal year as a postdoctoral fellow with Ladislav Tauc in Paris. He formed a neurophysiology group at New York University (1965–72). In 1972 he moved to Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons as founding director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, where he became professor (1983), senior investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (1984), and director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Sciences (2004). His research has centered on the biological basis of memory and its implications for normal and abnormal behavior. He was among the first to devise experimental methods for establishing the physiological and molecular basis of a crucial function of the brain. He worked initially on the relatively simple giant marine snail Aplysia and later on the hippocampus, the memory center, in mice, convinced that only simple systems would give insight into the formidable challenge of understanding consciousness and related brain function in humans. He ended previous fruitless speculation by establishing that memory involves the connections between nerve cells and patterns of protein synthesis in these cells. He was awarded the Nobel Prize (2000) jointly with Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greegard. His other honors include membership in the U.S. Academy of Sciences (1974), the Lasker Award (1983), the Gairdner Award (1987), the Harvey Prize of the Haifa Technion (1993), and the Wolf Prize (1999). His publications include (with J. Schwartz and T. Jessell) the standard textbook Principles of Neural Science.

[Michael Denman (2nd ed.)]