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Elaine Sanders-Bush Lecture/Flexner Discovery Lecture

"The Biology of Memory and Age Related Memory Loss"

Thursday, May 4, 2017

4:00 p.m., 208 Light Hall

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Eric R. Kandel, M.D.

Kavli Professor and Director, Kavli Institute for Brain Science

Co-Director, Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute

Senior Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University


Eric R. Kandel, M.D., is University Professor at Columbia University; Kavli Professor and Director, Kavli Institute for Brain Science; Co-Director, Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute; and an Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. A graduate of Harvard College and N.Y.U. School of Medicine, Kandel trained in Neurobiology at the NIH 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.  At Columbia Kandel organized the neuroscience curriculum.  He is an editor of Principles of Neural Science, the standard textbook in the field now in its 5th edition.  In 2006, Kandel wrote a book on the brain for the general public entitled In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind, which won both the L.A. Times and U.S. National Academy of Science Awards for best book in Science and Technology in 2008.  A documentary film based on that book is also entitled In Search of Memory.  In 2012 Kandel wrote The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present, which won the Kreisky Award in Literature, Austria's highest literary award.   Kandel’s new book entitled, Reductionism in Art and Brain Science: Bridging the Two Cultures, published by Columbia University Press has just been released.

Kandel’s research has been concerned with the molecular mechanisms of memory storage in Aplysia and mice.  More recently, he has studied animal models in mice, age related memory disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, nicotine, alcohol, marijuana and cocaine addiction. 

Kandel has received twenty-three honorary degrees, is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences as well as being a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London and a member of 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, the National Medal of Science USA and the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2000.


Elaine Sanders-Bush, Ph.D.

sanders-bush-horses2_0_0.jpgBorn and raised on a small farm in Kentucky, Elaine Sanders-Bush attended Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, where a visiting professor in Pharmacology from Vanderbilt University introduced her to the excitement of scientific research and the significant opportunities made available by advanced training. Upon graduation with a B.S. in Biology and Chemistry, she joined the graduate program in Pharmacology at Vanderbilt in 1962 and earned a Ph.D. degree in Pharmacology in 1967. After postdoctoral training, she joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1969, where she remained until her retirement in 2010, interrupted only by brief sabbaticals at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and Stanford University. Her service locally and nationally has been transformative.  In 2006, she was elected President of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. In that year, she was also named the Harvie Branscomb Distinguished Professor at Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Sanders-Bush’s research has made major contributions to the understanding of serotonin and its receptors, from pharmacology and signal transduction to in vivo brain function. Her research interest in serotonin dates back to her graduate school days studying the metabolic inactivation of a hallucinogenic serotonin derivative. Over time, as neuroscience research expanded exponentially, her work evolved to take advantage of the tremendous advances that were offered in molecular biology, genetics and behavior. Her research accomplishments have brought her broad recognition at a national and international level; among her research awards are a Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Neuroscience Research, a MERIT Award from the National Institute of Mental Health and the Heftner Prize for Outstanding Basic Research. 

Dr. Sanders-Bush has been a leader in the development of neuroscience research and graduate education at Vanderbilt. In 1997, she spearheaded the creation of a new Ph.D. degree program in Neuroscience and served as director of that program until 2008.  During this decade, the program grew to more than sixty graduate students. In 2002, she was appointed the first Director of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute. In recognition of her impact in graduate education at Vanderbilt, the Elaine Sanders-Bush Award for Mentoring Graduate and/or Medical Students in the Research Setting was created in 2006.  Dr. Sanders-Bush has a deep personal commitment to enhancing opportunities for minority trainees and has worked to enhance minority training programs at Tennessee State University, Meharry Medical College, and Vanderbilt. In recognition of her commitment and accomplishments, she was the first recipient of Vanderbilt’s Levi Watkins, Jr., Award for Leadership Diversity in 2002 and, in 2009, the Dr. Dolores C. Shockley Lecture and Partnership Award.

Over the course of her career, Dr. Sanders-Bush has mentored scores of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows as well as junior faculty. She has a strong record of training students who think both creatively and critically and is recognized for being a nurturing mentor while insisting that her students function at their highest level. Her former trainees hold prominent positions at major U.S. academic centers and in the pharmaceutical industry.

The Inaugural Elaine Sanders-Bush Lecture was given by Jean-Pierre Changeux, Ph.D., Honorary professor at the Collège de France and Emeritus professor at the Institut Pasteur.  Dr. Changeux presented “The Nicotinic Receptor: an allosteric membrane protein engaged in neuronal communication: The Logic of Allosteric Receptors in Signal Transduction and Chemical Therapeutics” on February 25, 2010.