Nobel Prize

Eric R. Kandel, M.D., is University Professor and Fred Kavli Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University; and Senior Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is Director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science and Co-Director of the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. In 2000, Dr. Kandel was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his groundbreaking research on the cellular and molecular bases of learning and memory using Aplysia californica.

His research specimens, supplied by the National Resource for Aplysia, aided Prof. Kandel in demonstrating fundamental ways in which nerve cells alter their responsiveness to chemical signals to produce a coordinated change in behavior. The study proved to be fundamental to not only the understanding of basic processes of learning and memory, but also for highlighting many of the cellular processes targeted by psychoactive drugs and medications.

Professor Kandel's research related three psychologically defined forms of learning: habituation, sensitization, and classical conditioning, to sub cellular processes and intercellular signaling. In his studies, he found that simple behaviors could be accounted for by distinctive sets of nerve cells connected in invariant circuits. Further, his research provided clue that learning produces changes in behavior, not by altering basic circuitry, but by adjusting the strength of particular connections between nerve cells. Dr. Kandel and co-workers also defined sets of genes and proteins that stabilize synaptic connections and trigger growth of new ones.

More recently, Prof. Kandel's lab expanded their approach from simple forms of memory in Aplysia, to more complex forms of spatial learning in mammals. For more details about Eric Kandel see his Columbia University Webpages:

as well as the Nobel Prize page: