A Conversation With Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel, Who Continues to Look Forward at 80

Nov. 23, 2009Bookmark and Share
Nine years after winning the Nobel Prize, neuroscientist Eric Kandel, who turned 80 on Nov. 7, is as inspired by science as he was at the start of his career. “Exciting things keep on popping out,” he says.
Kandel was one of the first scientists to study the brain at a cellular level in the 1960s, helping to meld the fields of psychiatry and molecular biology. His pioneering work led to the discovery that short-term and long-term memories are located at the synapse, or the point of communication among nerve cells. That observation helped him and his colleagues pinpoint a genetic switch, known as CREB, which is responsible for converting fleeting memories into ones that last for a lifetime.
Columbia celebrated the bow-tied University Professor’s birthday with a day-long neuroscience symposium in his honor on Nov. 20, with presentations given by his former students, post-doctoral research fellows and friends in neuroscience—both inside and outside Columbia. In this video, Kandel reflects on a lifetime of memories about his research, the nature of discovery and his time at Columbia.
Today, after 35 years at Columbia, Kandel still arrives at his CUMC lab every morning excited about finding answers to questions about the mind. He also looks forward to his future research home when Columbia’s Mind, Brain and Behavior Initiative takes up residence in the new Jerome L. Greene Science Center in Manhattanville.
The initiative's new home will be an expanded opportunity, he says, for Columbia to play a leading role in bringing together science and the humanities in new and still-undiscovered ways that extend our understanding of human behavior.
Kandel is currently co-hosting a series of special edition episodes of the Charlie Rose Show on the human brain. The next episode will air Tuesday, Nov. 24.
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