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Nobel Prize-winning neuropsychiatrist Eric Kandel will discuss “Memory and the Biological Basis of Individuality” at the Undergraduate Research Summer Institute symposium, October 1, 2011.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – Columbia University neuropsychiatrist Eric R. Kandel, a 2000 Nobel Prize winner for his research on the physiological basis of memory storage, will deliver the keynote address at the annual Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI) symposium on Saturday, October 1, at 3:45pm in the Villard Room of Main Building. The overall symposium (2:30-6:15pm in the Villard Room) showcases collaborative experiments, explorations, and critical analyses conducted by Vassar students and faculty during this past summer’s annual ten-week URSI program. All activities are free and open to the public

In his address “We Are What We Remember: Memory and the Biological Basis of Individuality” Kandel will consider how neural systems and molecular mechanisms in the human brain contribute to learning and long-term memory. He will demonstrate how different memory systems in the human brain have been identified and shown to be involved in simple and complex forms of memory storage and discuss the latest memory storage research involving marine mollusks and mice. Kandel will also share how insights into memory are allowing researchers to understand various forms of age-related memory loss.

About Eric Kandel

Eric R. Kandel, M.D. is University Professor at Columbia University, Fred Kavli Professor and Director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science, and a Senior Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Kandel and fellow researchers Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard were jointly awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for their discoveries concerning signal transduction in the nervous system.”  A graduate of Harvard College and the N.Y.U. School of Medicine, Kandel trained in neurobiology at the National Institutes of Health and in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.  He joined the faculty of the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in 1974 as the founding director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior. He is an editor of Principles of Neural Science, the standard textbook in the field.  His recent book about the brain written for the general public, In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind, won both the Los Angeles Times and U.S. National Academy of Science Awards for best book in science and technology. The documentary film In Search of Memory, based on his book, was later released.  In addition to his Nobel Prize, Kandel has received eighteen honorary degrees and is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Academies of Austria, France, Germany, and Greece. He has been recognized with the Albert Lasker Award, the Heineken Award of the Netherlands, the Gairdner Award of Canada, the Harvey Prize and the Wolf Prize of Israel, and the National Medal of Science USA.

About the Undergraduate Research Summer Institute

The Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI) is an intensive 10-week campus summer program in which Vassar students conduct original scientific research under faculty direction. Having just completed its twenty-fifth year, URSI is among the nation's oldest undergraduate scientific research programs.

URSI students are engaged in the entire research process: they formulate hypotheses, review scientific literature, develop experimental protocols, handle major instrumentation, gather data, analyze results, and present their findings. Each year over one hundred combined students and faculty members participate, and in the process create and nurture a tightly knit community of scientific scholars. Over the summer URSI’s weekly research-related events and social gatherings support participants' rigorous daily work, and each fall at the annual symposium URSI students make presentations about their research projects. Complete information on the symposium and overall URSI program is available online at

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations or information on accessibility should contact the Campus Activities Office at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Directions to the campus can be found at

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Thursday, September 15, 2011