(Vienna, 15 December 2021) Funded by the European Resilience and Recovery Facility as well as donations, the Center for Precision Medicine (CPM) is currently taking shape at the MedUni Vienna General Hospital Campus. This new facility will provide state-of-the-art infrastructure for research into digital and personalised medicine, as well as the development of diagnoses, treatments and preventive measures tailored in line with individual factors. The research centre will bear the name of Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel.
Born in Vienna in 1929, Eric Kandel revolutionized our understanding of the formation of short-term and long-term memories. The findings from Eric Kandel’s studies provided detailed insights into the human memory and the molecular basis for psychological processes and psychiatric disorders. In 2000, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of chemical and structural changes in the brain of all animals that learn, from snails to man.
Eric Kandel, MD, is University Professor at the Department of Neuroscience at Columbia University, Sagol Professor of Brain Science and Co-Director at Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute and Senior Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
As a child, Eric Kandel and his family were forced to emigrate to the USA following Austria’s annexation by Nazi Germany in 1939. He became an American citizen in 1945 and an honorary citizen of Vienna in 2009. Eric Kandel was awarded the Grand Decoration of Honour in Silver with Star for Services to the Republic of Austria in 2012, and received honorary doctorates from the University of Vienna in 1994 and the Medical University of Vienna in 2018. He currently lives in New York.
MedUni Rector Markus Müller presented Eric Kandel with the certificate confirming the naming of the CPM in his honour in New York.
“I am extremely honoured that the new Center for Precision Medicine at the Medical University of Vienna will be named the Eric Kandel Institute for Precision Medicine,” Eric Kandel said. “The establishment of the institute will ensure that the Medical University of Vienna will continue to be in the vanguard of medicine worldwide. I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the individuals who made this possible: Markus Müller, Rector of the Medical University of Vienna; Michael Ludwig, the Mayor of Vienna; Chancellor Karl Nehammer; and Dr Erwin Rasinger, a practising physician and former member of parliament. The naming of the institute is a sign of Austria’s solidarity with my personal history and the history of my family. I am very grateful for this recognition.”
“Eric Kandel’s outstanding achievements in the field of medicine deserve our utmost respect and recognition. Now, we are paying tribute to the Nobel laureate by naming the Medical University of Vienna’s Center for Precision Medicine – which will be known as the Eric Kandel Institute for Precision Medicine – in his honour. Although Eric Kandel and his family were forced to flee to the USA to escape persecution by the Nazis following the Anschluss, he has never lost his close association with his home country of Austria. As the Federal Chancellor, I would like to express my deepest respect to the countless individuals driven out by the National Socialists who have forgiven our country in spite of the injustice they suffered,” commented Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer.
“It is virtually impossible to make amends for the disgraceful displacement of Eric Kandel from his home city of Vienna,” added Mayor of Vienna Michael Ludwig. “In recent years, the City of Vienna has made every effort to restore and strengthen the ties between Eric Kandel – one of the leading neuroscientists of our time – and his home city. He was awarded honorary citizenship of Vienna in 2009, and now the Center for Precision Medicine at MedUni’s Vienna General Hospital Campus will be named after the Nobel Prize winner. I am delighted that Eric Kandel agreed to have the facility bear his name.”
Rector Markus Müller said: “It is a great honour and a tremendous distinction for the Medical University of Vienna to be able to name the Center for Precision Medicine after Professor Eric Kandel. As a consequence, Eric Kandel’s achievements will serve as both an example and a source of inspiration for future generations. The Eric Kandel Institute here in Vienna’s ninth district – the heart of the Medicine in the city, and also close to his family’s former home on Severingasse – will embody Eric Kandel’s name, his life and his accomplishments.”
Precision medicine: everybody has unique characteristics
The concept of precision medicine has brought about a paradigm shift in medical care. Comparable to a fingerprint, every individual’s disposition towards illness is totally unique, and is determined by genetics and environmental influences. This means that precision medicine based on specifically defined individual and molecular factors represents the optimum approach to treatment and prevention.
Outstanding facilities for up to 400 researchers
By 2026, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research will have invested a total of EUR 75 million – using funds from the European Resilience and Recovery Facility – in building the new centre and implementing state-of-the-art research infrastructure. In turn, this will create an outstanding working environment for up to 400 MedUni Vienna researchers. The new centre is a high-profile sign of the standing of precision medicine at the Medical University of Vienna campus next to Vienna General Hospital – one of the largest hospitals in the world.