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It takes as much effort to work on a boring problem as an interesting one


Feeling intellectually invigorated
Eric Kandel Scientist
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I mentioned earlier that when I came to Harvard I sensed I want to be embedded in the university community. I just felt it was such an exhilarating feeling. And I've had this at Columbia. I love this university. It's given me fantastic freedom. I find it intellectually invigorating. And there are terrific interactions between people that are critical but supportive. You know, people don't bullshit one another. We are very honest in criticizing one another, but these are designed to help you. And when we prepare for major things, for example Hughes renewals, we help each other a great deal in preparing for that. So I think that's been absolutely spectacular.

The other thing is support. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, you know, I'm not sure I would have gotten the Nobel Prize without it. It came along just as I was moving into really molecular neuroscience. And it allowed me to make the transition effortlessly. So it's a privilege to be supported by them.

And then I have a wonderful family. You know, my kids are great, my grandchildren give us a lot of pleasure. We've never had serious problems.

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: Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard University

Duration: 1 minute, 24 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2015

Date story went live: 04 May 2016