Kandel earns a scholarship to enter Harvard University. He majors in 19th and 20th century European history and literature with an honours dissertation on “The Attitude toward National Socialism of Three German Writers: Carl Zuckmayer, Hans Carossa, and Ernst Junger”. During these years he knows Anna Kris, also emigrated from Vienna with her parents, Ernst and Marianne Kris, both eminent psychoanalysts, who influence Kandel’s future depicting how interesting and fascinating psychoanalysis is.
Instead of doing graduate work in European intellectual history, Kandel decides to enter New York University Medical School to become a physician, to train later as a psychiatrist, to become a practicing psychoanalyst. Gradually he becomes interested in the biological basis of medical practice; therefore he decides to study the biology of the mind.
Kandel joins Ladislav Tauc's laboratory in Paris as Postdoctoral Fellow. Tauc is one of the two people in the world working on Aplysia, the giant marine snail. Kandel wants to study it because Aplysia’s nervous system has a small number of cells, the cells are unusually large, and many of the cells are invariant and identifiable as unique individuals. In 1965 Kandel publishes his initial results, including a form of presynaptic potentiation that seems to correspond to a simple form of learning.
Kandel is Founding Director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior at Columbia. In 1983 he becomes University Professor. In 1984 he resigns as Director of the Center to be Senior Investigator at H. H. Medical Research Institute. He finds that protein phosphorylation in synapses plays a main role for the generation of a form of short term memory. To develop a long term memory is also required a change in protein synthesis, which can lead to alterations in shape and function of the synapse.
Kandel receives one third of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard "for their discoveries concerning signal transduction in the nervous system". In his works he demonstrates the crucial role of synapses in memory and learning, verifying that weak stimuli give rise to certain chemical changes in synapses, creating the basis for short-term memory, and that stronger stimuli cause different synaptic changes, which result then in long-term memory.
Kandel enters at Columbia University the laboratory of Harry Grundfest, for him the most intellectually interesting neurobiologist in the New York area. Here he starts working with Dominick Purpura on cortical physiology. After his marriage and his internship at Montefiore Hospital, Kandel returns in 1957 in Grundfest's lab. He spends six weeks with Stanley Crain, who teaches him how to make microelectrodes and how to obtain and interpret intracellular recordings from the crayfish giant axon.
After his graduation, Richard Kandel marries Denise Bystryn, a Jewish French student of the Columbia University.
Richard Kandel attends Yeshiva of Flatbush. After his graduation in 1944 he is able to speak Hebrew almost as well as English.
Richard Kandel attends Erasmus Hall High School. Here he develops his interest in history, in writing, and in girls. He works on the school newspaper and becomes sports editor. He likes also to play soccer.
Eric Richard Kandel is born in Vienna as second child to Herman Kandel, a toy shop owner, and his wife, Charlotte Zimels. Kandel witnesses the violence of the Austria's pro-Nazi laws. He escapes the country with his family just before the beginning of World War II.
Richard Kandel obtains an intership position at Montefiore Hospital.
Richard Kandel starts a psychiatric residency at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center of the Harvard Medical School. Here he has the great opportunity to interact with Steven Kuffler and his group of neural scientists. In his spare time Kandel manages to do some research; he obtains the first intracellular recording from hypothalamic neuro-endocrine cells and finds that these hormone-releasing cells have all the electrical properties of normal nerve cells.
Richard Kandel joins the Laboratory of Neurophysiology at the US National Institutes of Health under Wade Marshall. Kandel performs electrophysiological recordings from hippocampal pyramidal neurons. Working with Alden Spencer, he finds electrophysiological evidence for action potentials in the dendritic trees of hippocampal neurons.
Richard Kandel relocates in the USA living at first with his mother's parents. His grandfather teaches him Hebrew during the summer of 1939. In that way in the fall of the same year Kandel is able to enter the Yeshiva of Flatbush, an excellent Hebrew school that offers secular and religious studies at a very high level.
Kandel stimulates Aplysia’s sensory neurons with electrodes. He maps the entire neural circuit of a simple behaviour in the snails (the gill-withdrawal reflex) that changes and learns in response to its environment. Then, by studying parts of the circuit on a petri dish and stimulating the neurons with electric shocks and chemicals, he defines many of the chemical pathways that mediate memory formation. From 1965 to 1985, through researches and dozens of papers, Kandel cracks the memory code.
Kandel is Associate Professor at the Department of Physiology and Psychiatry at N. Y.U. starting a group focused on the neurobiology of behaviour. With I. Kupferman and H. Pinsker he develops protocols for detecting simple forms of learning by intact Aplysia. In 1971 T. Carew helps extending the work to long-term memory studies. Their results provide evidence for the mechanistic basis of learning as “a change in the functional effectiveness of previously existing excitatory connections.”