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January 30, 2002


2000 Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel Will Deliver Breinin Lecture at Emory University

Eric Kandel, M.D., winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2000 for his contributions to the fundamental processes of learning and memory, will deliver the annual Goodwin and Rose Helen Breinin Lecture in Basic Sciences at Emory University. The lecture will take place Thursday, Feb. 21 at 4:00 p.m. in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Administration Building auditorium, located at 1440 Clifton Rd. on the Emory campus. A reception will immediately follow the lecture.

Using the relatively simple neural circuitry comprising the withdrawal reflexes in the sea slug Aplysia, Dr. Kandel and his colleagues identified fundamental cellular mechanisms that result in the modifiability of nerve cell signaling. These changes lead to alterations in the learned behaviors of habituation, sensitization and classical conditioning. Dr. Kandel and his colleagues found that learning produces changes in behavior not by altering basic circuitry, but by adjusting the strength of particular synapses. They then identified sets of genes and proteins that stabilize synaptic connections and trigger growth of new ones. More recently, his laboratory has extended this approach to more complex forms of spatial learning in the hippocampus of genetically modified mice.

Dr. Kandel, who is university professor of physiology and cell biophysics, psychiatry, biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Columbia University, shared the Nobel Prize with Arvid Carlsson of the University of Goteborg, Sweden and Paul Greengard of The Rockefeller University, New York. A Howard Hughes Medical Institute senior investigator, Dr. Kandel is a member of both the National Academy of Science and American Philosophical Society and is a winner of the National Medal of Science, the Lasker Award, the Wolf Prize, the Gairdner Award and the Harvey Prize. As co-editor of the definitive resource book Principles of Neural Science, he has helped to coalesce the entire field of neuroscience.

Dr. Kandel was born in Vienna, Austria in 1929, emigrating to the United States in 1939. He graduated from Harvard and received his M.D. from New York University School of Medicine. He began his research career at the National Institutes of Health and continued with residency training in psychiatry at Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Harvard Medical school, and the Institut Morey in Paris. He has held faculty positions at Harvard Medical School and the New York University School of Medicine. At Columbia, he was founding director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior.

The Breinin Lectureship is named for Goodwin Breinin and Rose Helen Breinin. Dr. Goodwin Breinin, a1941 graduate of Emory University School of Medicine, is chair of ophthalmology at New York University School of Medicine and director of the Kirby Institute of Ophthalmology. He was a pioneer in developing new treatments for glaucoma and is a 1993 recipient of the Emory Medal – Emory University's highest honor. Rose Helen Breinin's career includes work with the New York City Housing Authority, in public health community service and as a museum researcher and volunteer. The Breinin Lecture is free and open to the public.

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