UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior

Visiting Scholars PRogram


(2013) Eric R. Kandel, MD, is Kavli Professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University.  He founded and served as the first Director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, now the Department of Neuroscience at Columbia University.  Dr. Kandel was born in Vienna in 1929 and came to US at the age of 9.  He earned his BA at Harvard University and his MD at New York University.  Initially attracted to neuroscience through psychoanalysis and the works of Freud, he soon became absorbed in experimental neuroscience.  His Nobel-winning work elucidated the physiology of memory storage in neurons through studies of nerve cells in Aplysia, the sea slug.  Dr. Kandel is the author of the highly regarded textbook, Principles of Neural Science, and a bestselling autobiography, In Search of Memory.  In his most recent book, The Age of Insight, Kandel returns to his early love of history in looking at art, science, and medicine in the Vienna of 1900.

Kandel writes in In Search of Memory:  The Emergence of a New Science of Mind (2007):  Then, in my last year in college, 1951-52, I developed a fascination with psychoanalysis, a discipline focused on peeling back the layers of personal memory and experience to understand the often irrational roots of human motivation, thoughts, and behavior.  In the early 1950s most practicing psychoanalysts were also physicians.  I therefore decided to go to medical school.  There, I was exposed to the revolution occurring in biology, to the likelihood that fundamental mysteries of the nature of living things were about to be revealed….