A crux of Dr. Eric Kandel’s career has been the integration of psychiatric with biological research. After earning a degree in psychiatry from NYU Medical School, he turned his attention to the brain’s molecular structure, and later pioneered a reductionist approach to neurobiology by using the Aplysia sea slug as his model organism.
An MBF Bioscience customer for many years, Dr. Kandel’s research on learning and memory helped give rise to the notion of plasticity in the brain. Recently, the octogenarian Nobel Prize Laureate, Columbia University professor, Kavli Institute for Brain Science director, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute senior investigator began focusing on schizophrenia with the transgenic mouse as a model.
“Transgenic mouse models may be just one impetus pushing psychiatry toward a needed paradigm shift, one that integrates psychiatry, neurobiology, and cognitive psychology,” he told Psychiatric News, the newspaper of the American Psychiatric Association.
The article reports that Dr. Kandel’s lab developed a mouse model with schizophrenic symptoms based on the genetic structures of a human schizophrenic brain. The transgenic mouse overexpressed the D2 receptor in the striatum and also expressed a regulatory gene that could be used to control the receptor gene. According to the article, the researchers found that the experimental mice mimicked the behavior of humans with schizophrenia in tests of motivation and hedonic reactions.
Read more about the Schizophrenia research being conducted at Dr. Kandel’s lab at psychnews.psychiatryonline.org; and learn about his experience as a Jewish child in Vienna in the 1930s, what sparked his interest in psychoanalysis, and why he decided to study Aplysia sea slug at Nobelprize.org.
Photo of Dr. Kandel via Columbia University.