On April 24, 2018, Markus Mueller, Rector of the Medical University of Vienna, bestowed an honorary doctorate on Austrian-American neuroscientist Dr. Eric Kandel. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and the former President of Austria, Heinz Fischer, attended the ceremony in Vienna, Austria.
Eric Kandel, 88, won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in the year 2000. He specializes in the biology of memory and is a professor in the neuroscience and psychiatry departments at Columbia University, NY. Dr. Kandel is co-director of the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute at Columbia and a senior investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, MD. He lives with his wife Dr. Denise Kandel, an epidemiology professor at Columbia, in Harlem, New York City.
Eric Richard Kandel was born in 1929 as the second son of a Viennese toy dealer. Following the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, Kandel and his family were forced to emigrate to the United States in 1939. He became an American citizen in 1945. His interest in researching the physiological processes in the brain initially developed from his interest in psychology and the theories of Sigmund Freud. Kandel started to study medicine at New York University in 1952 with the original intention of becoming a psychiatrist or psychoanalyst but then decided to go into basic research and to dedicate himself to the experimental study of biological and molecular processes in the brain.
"Eric Kandel is one of the very few living Nobel prize-winners with roots in Austria. For this alone he is a great example to us all. We have a responsibility towards those people who were expelled and never brought back. As an admonishment of the Republic, Eric Kandel makes us look back on the past and, as a successful scientist and example, forwards towards the future," said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
"As an outstanding researcher, humanist and Nobel prize-winner from the year 2000, Professor Kandel has helped to shape modern medicine," said MedUni Vienna Rector Markus Mueller. "We are very honoured that, despite the traumatic experiences of his childhood in Vienna in the 1930s, which finally led to his family fleeing and emigrating to the USA, he has become our teacher and friend. We are delighted that he is accepting this honorary doctorate from our university as a mark of the high esteem in which we hold him."
"We are all ultimately shaped by our memories. The results of Eric Kandel's decades of research and his insights into the biological foundations of learning and memory, right down to the level of individual molecules, are a gift to humanity," said laudatory speaker Daniela D. Pollak. She worked as a post-doc in Eric Kandel's laboratory for three years and was involved in researching the molecular bases of learned safety in the mouse model.
All Photos © Austrian Federal Press Service, Dragan Tatic
Source: Medical University of Vienna