Columbia University Medical Center

Eric Kandel: From Refugee to Nobel Prize Winner

Today, June 20th, is World Refugee Day. Columbia’s own neuroscience pioneer, Eric Kandel, MD, was once a refugee.

Dr. Kandel was born in Vienna, Austria, and escaped the country in 1939 at age 10 after the Nazi invasion. The Kandel family settled in the United States, and Dr. Kandel would go on to have an illustrious career in neuroscience. He studied at world-renowned institutions including Harvard University and the National Institutes of Health before coming to Columbia University in 1974, where he was appointed professor of physiology and psychiatry.

In 2000, Dr. Kandel won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his research on the sea slug Aplysia, which helped to uncover important molecular mechanisms that drive the processes of learning and memory. To learn more about Dr. Kandel’s incredible journey, and how his past life experiences influenced his work as a scientist, watch our mini-documentary above.

Eric Kandel, MD, is University Professor & Kavli Professor of Brain Science, co-director of Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science, and senior investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.