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My privileged career


Enjoying the public outreach aspect of science
Eric Kandel Scientist
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Charlie Rose interviewed me for the Nobel Prize, and we got along extremely well. And he had me back once or twice more, and we had very good programs. And then he invited me to Aspen where he runs a series of roundtables. He asked me to organize something on age-related… any topic, I organized an age-related memory loss.

And so they had a roundtable on Iran, on Afghanistan, on, you know, Israel/Palestinian interaction. One depressing topic after another. So this audience was moving around, becoming progressively more despondent. And then he came to our roundtable with this delusional optimism of biologists really is at work, and they loved it. They thought it was the best thing they heard. It was B+, but fine.

So Charlie said we have to do something about it. So we started the first of what turned out to be three series on the brain. The first was the normal brain, perception, action, etc, memory. The second one was abnormal brain, psychiatric and neurological diseases. And we've just started the third series on brain science in society - aggression, parenting, and just now we did a terrific program on transgender.

So having a wonderful time. I've always enjoyed sort of the public outreach aspect of science. I mentioned earlier how Principles of Neural Science was really an attempt at least to reach medical students in a coherent way. The two books that I wrote were designed for the general reader, and this was wonderful, and Charlie's just fantastic in his capability of doing that, and I've learned an enormous amount from him about that. So that has been very enjoyable.

Eric Kandel (b. 1929) is an American neuropsychiatrist. He was a recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on the physiological basis of memory storage in neurons. He shared the prize with Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard. Kandel, who had studied psychoanalysis, wanted to understand how memory works. His mentor, Harry Grundfest, said, 'If you want to understand the brain you're going to have to take a reductionist approach, one cell at a time.' Kandel then studied the neural system of the sea slug Aplysia californica, which has large nerve cells amenable to experimental manipulation and is a member of the simplest group of animals known to be capable of learning. Kandel is a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He is also Senior Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He was the founding director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, which is now the Department of Neuroscience at Columbia University. Kandel's popularized account chronicling his life and research, 'In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind', was awarded the 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Award for Science and Technology.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Charlie Rose, Aspen Ideas Festival, normal brain, abnormal brain, public outreach science

Duration: 1 minute, 58 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2015

Date story went live: 04 May 2016