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Found in Translation
by Jim Schnabel
Bringing the autobiography of a Jewish scientist, who narrowly escaped the Holocaust, to a predominantly Shia Muslim readership is not as quixotic a project as it might seem, insists Pouya Jamshidi.
“Anyone anywhere who is interested in neuroscience will relate to Eric Kandel,” says Jamshidi, an Iranian-born college student who spent last summer in Kandel's lab at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. “His contribution is one of a kind and really, to a great extent, his life story is also the story of neuroscience.”
Jamshidi immigrated to California with his parents in 2002 and is now a 26-year-old senior at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). He calls his time in Kandel's lab “a life-changing experience. I was surrounded by the most brilliant people, including Eric himself, who is a legend in neuroscience yet was very approachable and friendly.”
Reading Kandel's book, In Search of Memory, Jamshidi sensed a connection. “Aside from having a tremendous intellect, he has a real passion for science. I like to think that in my own perhaps naïve way I have that passion too.” He decided to translate the book into Persian in the hope that others in Iran, Afghanistan, and the Persian-speaking diaspora will be inspired to choose a life in science.
Kandel, a longtime HHMI investigator who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2000, has genuine affection for Jamshidi—“just a wonderful human being”—and, despite concern that the translation venture could absorb too much of Jamshidi's time, says that “it seems perfectly innocuous, so I won't stop him.”