Eric R. Kandel papers, 1940s-2015

Summary Information


Eric R. Kandel is a neuroscientist and the recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for "discoveries concerning signal transduction in the nervous system." The papers include awards files, clippings, correspondence, grant files, lectures, photographs, publications, reprints, syllabi, videotapes, and dissertations written by Kandel's students.

At a Glance

Call No.:
Bib ID:
11497065 View CLIO record
Kandel, Eric R.
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Physical Description:
18.2 linear feet (12 record cartons, 7 document boxes, 1 half-document box, and 1 flat box, 1 medal box)
Primarily in English, with some material in German.
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.


Scope and Content

Eric R. Kandel is a neuroscientist, and the recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. In addition to the Nobel Prize Kandel was also awarded the National Medical of Science, the Albert Lasker Award, the Heineken Award of the Netherlands, the Gairdner Award of Canada, the Harvey Prize and the Wolf Prize of Israel. He is the recipient of 22 honorary degrees.

The papers include awards files, clippings, correspondence, lectures, photographs, publications, reprints of published articles, syllabi, videotapes, and dissertations written by Kandel's students.

The records primarily document Kandel's intellectual output and influence and include articles, dissertations by his students, published books, and syllabi. The most comprehensive coverage is for Kandel's articles: the papers include reprints from 1960-2010, arranged chronologically and bound into volumes by Kandel. The papers also include copies of several of Kandel's published books for both general and scientific audiences, as well as files that include related articles, correspondence, proofs, and reviews. In addition, the papers include outlines for the individual television episodes of Charlie Rose: The Brain Series, which is co-hosted by Kandel. A particularly interesting part of the collection is a series of student handouts from the years 1973-1978 which served as the precursor to Kandel's seminal and prizewinning textbook on neurobiology with James H. Schwartz called, Principles of Neuroscience (1981). The book is now in its 5th edition. The papers also include 34 dissertations by Kandel's students, covering the period from 1967-2013, showing the influence of his work.

The papers also document the recognition of Kandel's work through awards files, clippings, and other publications. The award files include certificates, clippings, correspondence, itineraries, photographs, press releases, programs, and sometimes copies of Kandel's lectures or remarks. Files related to the Nobel Prize are more extensive than those available for other awards; these include articles, clippings, congratulatory letters and Kandel's responses, itineraries, and programs. Clippings, as well as the publications in Subseries II.3, also document Kandel's activities and the wider recognition of his work.

The collection also includes videotapes from a limited period (1994-2001). These include awards ceremonies, lectures, promotional videos, and television show appearances (particularly on "Charlie Rose") that feature Kandel. Also included are two biographical pieces: the rough cut of an oral history interview conducted by the Society of Neuroscience with Kandel in 2001 (an edited version is available from the organization) and a DVD copy of the film by the filmmaker Petra Seeger entitled In Search of Memory (2009).

The papers include limited correspondence and relatively few manuscripts, speeches, or teaching files. There are no appointment books, course notebooks, journals, laboratory notebooks, research files or reports in the papers. In addition, there are few records related to Kandel's institutional work at either New York University or Columbia University.

  • Series I: Biographical Materials, 2006-2015

    This series includes a curriculum vitae and other biographical material related to Kandel. There is additional biographical material in Series III.4: Published Books, Series VIII: Clippings, and Series IX: Video.

  • Series II: Correspondence, 1950s-2015

    This series includes professional correspondence, invitations, and requests for participation in conferences, lectures, symposia and other events. The early files include correspondence with Ladislav Tauc, William Alden Spencer, Mary Wheeler, and John Eccles.

  • Series III: Manuscripts, Published Works, and Television Series, 1950s-2015

    This primarily consists of correspondence, manuscripts, outlines, and published materials related to Kandel's published works and television series, however, Subseries III.3 includes publications with articles written by Kandel and pieces written about him.

  • Series IV: Grant Files, 1965-1983

    This series includes several grant applications and progress reports submitted by Kandel, or by Kandel with William Allen Spencer, from 1965-1980. Some of the files contain personal information about living applicants, and are restricted until 2029.

  • Series V: Awards, 1953-2014

    This series consists primarily of general and alphabetical files related to awards. In addition, there is a set of files related to the Nobel Prize. The series also includes some files related to Kandel's faculty appointments and speaking engagements.

  • Series VI: Conferences, 1958, 1985, 1999-2006

    This series contains a small number of files related to Kandel's participation in conferences, colloquia, and symposia.

  • Series VII: Syllabi, 1972-1979

    This series consist of syllabi and student handouts from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and the New York University School of Medicine. These include the full-text of the lectures, and are formatted as books. These are a precursor to Kandel's seminal textbook on neurobiology with James H. Schwartz called, Principles of Neuroscience (1981).

  • Series VIII: Clippings, 1967-2014

    This series consists of two files of articles, clippings, and newsletters with articles on Kandel.

  • Series IX: Video, 1994-2009, undated

    This series contains 31 VHS videotapes of awards, lectures, promotional videos, and television-show appearances which featured Kandel. Also included are two biographical pieces: the rough cut of an oral history interview conducted by the Society of Neuroscience with Kandel in 2001 (an edited version is available from the organization) and a DVD copy of the film by the filmmaker Petra Seeger entitled In Search of Memory (2009).

  • Series X: Subject Files, 2009

    This includes files related to Kandel's 80th birthday celebration.

  • Series XI: Dissertations by Students of Kandel, 1967-2013

    This series contains dissertations by students of Kandel that represent the intellectual influence of Kandel in his field. Most appear to be final copies, but a few are drafts and include Kandel's corrections and notes.

  • Series XII: Photographs, 1940s-2010s


This collection is arranged in eleven series and several subseries.

Using the Collection

Restrictions on Access

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Eric R. Kandel Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.


Additional material is not expected at this time

Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2015.2016.M001: Source of acquisition--Eric R. Kandel. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--7/1/2015.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed by Catherine C. Ricciardi 2015.

Finding aid written by Catherine C. Ricciardi September 2015.

Papers appraised by Allan Stypeck May 20, 2015.

Revision Description

2015-08-25 File created.

2015-08-25 XML document instance created by Catherine C. Ricciardi

2015-09-14 XML document instance revised and updated by Catherine C. Ricciardi

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Biographical Note

Eric R. Kandel was born in Vienna, Austria, on November 7, 1929, the second son of Hermann and Charlotte (née Zimels) Kandel. Kandel's family left Austria after it was annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II and arrived in Brooklyn, New York in 1939.

Kandel was educated at the Yeshiva at Flatbush and Erasmus Hall High School, and graduated from Harvard College in 1952. At Harvard, Kandel initially studied European intellectual history, but became interested in psychoanalysis. At the time, psychoanalysts were trained as physicians and then as psychiatrists, so Kandel decided to pursue medical school. He graduated from New York University Medical School in 1956. While there, Kandel developed an interest in the biological basis of medical practice, and this led him to study neurobiology with Harry Grundfest at Columbia University.

After graduating from New York University, Kandel joined the Laboratory of Neurophysiology at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1957, studying mammalian brain neurophysiology with Wade Marshall. He left NIH in 1960 to begin his residency in psychiatry at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center of the Harvard Medical School. After completing his residency in 1962, he received a National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) postdoctoral fellowship to work with Ladislav Tauc, whose work withApylsiainterested Kandel, in his laboratory in Paris. Kandel stayed at Tauc's laboratory for 16 months before returning to Harvard. After a short time, Kandel decided to accept an invitation to start a small neurophysiology group focused specifically on the neurobiology of behavior in the Departments of Physiology and Psychiatry at the New York University Medical School in 1965.

Kandel became Professor of Physiology and Psychiatry, and was invited to become the founding director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, in 1974. The Center became the Department of Neuroscience in 2007. Kandel became a University Professor in 1983 and a Hughes Senior Investigator in 1984. Kandel is currently University Professor and Fred Kavli Professor, Department of Neuroscience, and Senior Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is also Director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science and Co-Director of the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.

Kandel's research has focused on learning and memory development. Kandel was initially interested in recording the activity of nerve cells in the hippocampus, the center of memory formation in the brain, but he felt that he needed to study a simpler system at the cellular level. He decided to work with theApylsia, a sea slug, as it has relatively few nerve cells and clearly delineated behavioral circuitry when compared with vertebrates, and it is a member of the simplest group of animals known to be capable of learning. Using theApylsia, Kandel was able to study basic learning mechanisms. His research has illuminated the biological changes that accompany memory development and learning. Kandel's experiments withApylsia, as well as his later research with mice, established that learning produces changes in behavior by adjusting the strength of connections between nerve cells, rather than by altering basic circuitry, as changes in synaptic function form different types of memories. Kandel's discoveries have greatly expanded the scientific understanding of the basic processes of short and long term memory formation.

Kandel's "discoveries concerning signal transduction in the nervous system" were recognized in 2000, when he was award the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard. Kandel is also the recipient of many other honorary degrees and awards, including the Dickson Prize, Lasker Award, National Medal of Science, the Harvey Prize, and the Wolf Prize in Medicine.

Kandel is also known outside of scientific circles for his work in bringing science to the general public. He has served as a co-host with Charlie Rose for the Charlie Rose: The Brain Series, which is distributed nationally on PBS, since 2009. He has also published two books written for general audiences: In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of the Mind (2006), which won the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Science and Technology and was made into a documentary film in 2009, and The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present (2012).

Kandel married Denise Bystryn, later a professor of sociomedical sciences (in psychiatry) at Columbia University, in 1956, and they have two children.

The following is a listing of Kandel's awards:

1959 - Henry L. Moses Research Award, Montefiore Hospital

1977 - Lester N. Hofheimer Prize for Research (Awarded by the American Psychiatric Association)

1977 - Lucy G. Moses Prize for Research in Basic Neurology (Awarded by Columbia University)

1978 - The Dean's Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching (Awarded by Columbia University)

1979 - Solomon A. Berson Medical Alumni Achievement Award in Basic Science (Awarded by New York University)

1981 - Karl Spencer Lashley Prize in Neurobiology (Awarded by the American Philosophical Society)

1982 - The Dickson Prize in Biology and Medicine (Awarded by the University of Pittsburgh)

1982 - The New York Academy of Sciences Award in Biological and Medical Sciences

1983 - Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award (Shared with Vernon B. Mountcastle)

1984 - Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research (Awarded by Brandeis University and shared with Daniel Koshland)

1984 - Howard Crosby Warren Medal (Awarded by the Society of Experimental Psychologists)

1985 - American Association of Medical Colleges Award for Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences

1986 - Special Presidential Commendation of the American Psychiatric Association

1987 - Gairdner International Award for Outstanding Achievement in Medical Science (Awarded by the Gairdner Foundation, Canada)

1988 - National Medal of Science

1988 - Gold Medal for Scientific Merit (Awarded by the Fondazione Giovanni Lorenzini, Milan, Italy)

1988 - National Academy of Sciences for Scientific Reviewing

1989 - Distinguished Service Award of the American Psychiatric Association

1989 - Award in Basic Science, American College of Physicians

1989 - Robert J. and Claire Pasarow Foundation Award in Neuroscience

1990 - Diploma Internacional Cajal (Instituto Cajal: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Madrid)

1991 - Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience Research (with T.V.M. Bliss)

1992 - John P. McGovern Lectureship Award in Behavioral Neuroscience (Awarded by the American Association for the Advancement of Science)

1992 - Warren Triennial Prize (Awarded by Massachusetts General Hospital)

1992 - Jean-Louis Signoret's Prize on Memory (Awarded by the Fondation Ipsen, Paris)

1993 - Harvey Prize (Awarded by the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel)

1993 - F.O. Schmitt Medal and Prize in Neuroscience (Rockefeller University)

1994 - Isaac Ray Decade of Excellence Award (Awarded by Brown University)

1994 - Mayor's Award for Excellence in Science and Technology

1995 - Stevens Triennial Prize (Awarded by Columbia University)

1996 - New York Academy of Medicine Award

1997 - Gerard Prize (Society of Neuroscience) for Outstanding Achievement in Neuroscience

1997 - Charles A. Dana Award for Pioneering Achievement in Health (with P. Greengard)

1999 - Wolf Prize in Biology and Medicine, Israel

2000 - Dr. A.H. Heineken Prize for Medicine (Awarded by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam, Netherlands)

2000 - Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (Awarded by the Nobel Foundation, Stockholm, Sweden, shared with Paul Greengard and Arvid Carlsson)

2000 - Distinguished Investigator Award, National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders

2001 - Lifetime Achievement Award, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

2001 - Annual Achievement Award, Parkinson Foundation

2001 - Office of the Mayor, City of New York, Proclamation May 11, 2001 as "Eric Kandel Day"

2001 - Distinguished Service Award, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

2001 - NAMI Pioneer in Science Award

2002 - Julius Axelrod Neuroscience Award NARSAD (shared with Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard)

2002 - Centenary Medal, Royal Society of Canada

2002 - Honorary Member, Alumni Association, Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons

2003 - Honorary Fellow, Distinguished Service in Psychiatry, American College of Psychiatrists

2003 - Paul Hoch Award

2003 - Distinguished Alumnus Award, New York University Alumni Association

2003 - Sven Berggrens Pris, Lund, Sweden

2003 - Pupin Medal for Service to the Nation, Columbia University

2003 - Salmon Award, New York Academy of Medicine

2004 - Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate Award, Smithsonian Associates and Creativity Foundation

2004 - David Dean Brockman Lectureship Award, American College of Psychoanalysts

2005 - Austrian Medal of Honour for Science and Art (Presented by the President of the Republic of Austria)

2006 - Biotechnology Achievement Award, NYU School of Medicine

2006 - Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Sciences, American Philosophical Society

2006 - McKnight Foundation Recognition Award, McKnight Conference for Neuroscience

2006 - Louise T. Blouin Foundation Global Creative Leadership Award

2007 - Cosmos Club McGovern Award in Science, Washington D.C.

2009 - Ellis Island Family Heritage Award

2009 - Honorary Citizenship of the City of Vienna, Austria

2009 - Honorary Award from the Viktor Frankl Foundation of the City of Vienna for the Advancement of Meaning-Oriented Humanistic Psychotherapy

2009 - Ulysses Medal, University College Dublin, Ireland

2009 - Inauguration of the Eric Kandel Young Scientist Prize, Frankfurt, Germany (An award established by the Hertie Foundation to recognize and support the outstanding work of young European neuroscientists)

2009 - Gold Medal for Distinguished Service to Humanity, The National Institute of Social Sciences

2010 - Alexander Award in Psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine

2010 - Catcher in the Rye Humanitarian Award, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

2010 - Eastman Medal, University of Rochester

2011 - National Leadership Award in Science and Education, Merage Foundation for the American Dream

2012 - Child Mind Institute Distinguished Scientist Award

2012 - Columbia Lamplighter Award, Chabad at Columbia University

2012 - Adolf Meyer Award, American Psychiatric Association

2012 - NEPA Distinguished Contribution Award

2012 - David Mahoney Prize, Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute

2014 - American Association of Chairs of Departments of Psychiatry President's Award

2014 - Productive Lives Award, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches for other collections at Columbia University, through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, and through ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

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Clippings (Information Artifacts) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Correspondence CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Doctoral Dissertations CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Photographs CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Programs (documents) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Reprints CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Syllabi CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Videotapes CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Spencer, William Alden CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Tauc, Ladislav CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Cellular signal transduction CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Central nervous system -- Physiology CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Holocaust survivors -- United States CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Austria -- Vienna CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Medical scientists -- United States -- Biography CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Memory CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Mental Process -- Physiology CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Neurobiology CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Neurologists -- United States -- Biography CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Neuropsychology CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Neurosciences CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Nobel Prizes CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID