Lab Members

Current lab members

Gail Mandel having fun in her lab at the Vollum Institute

Gail Mandel, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist and Principal Investigator

A valley girl at heart, Gail received her Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1977, four years after receiving her B.A. in Biology. She did her postdoctoral training at UCLA and the University of California, San Diego, and was an instructor in the Department of Pathology at Harvard Medical School for two years before joining Molecular Medicine at Tufts-New England Medical Center in 1984. In 1989, Mandel was promoted to associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology & Behavior at Stony Brook University and advanced to the rank of distinguished professor before joining the Vollum Institute in 2006. She was an HHMI Investigator from 1997 to 2016.

Aliyih Bristol

Aliyih Bristol, B.A.
Grants/Contracts Coordinator

Aliyih Bristol graduated from Lewis & Clark College and worked as an administrative assistant at UC Berkeley prior to becoming the assistant to the Mandel lab. In her spare time Aliyih raises two boys (three including her husband) and performs live around Portland as a vocalist. She is an avid cyclist and can’t be caught, even by riders of the electric Faraday that sits in Gail’s office.

Jenna Fisk

Jenna Fisk, A.S.
Research Assistant 2

Jenna received an Associates of Applied Science from Portland Community College before beginning at OHSU as a volunteer. Before joining the Mandel lab she worked with Stephanie Kaech-Petrie in the ALMC imaging core, learning different imaging systems and analysis techniques. She has worked on projects involving neurons, breast cancer, and a number of clinical pathology samples. She now assists other Mandel lab members with collecting images on the lab's Ziess 710 microscope and the manipulation and extraction of raw data for further analysis. In her free time, she enjoys the beach and a good book.

Sabrina Kragness

Sabrina Kragness, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Sabrina graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon and received her Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from Tulane University in 2022. In her graduate work, Sabrina investigated the molecular function of a novel micropeptide and its role in age-dependent alternations of synaptic plasticity in the mouse hippocampus.  Sabrina is now working in the Mandel Lab on developing site-directed RNA editing approaches to repair patient mutations in the transcription factor, MECP2, which causes the neurodevelopmental disorder, Rett Syndrome.

John McCormick

John McCormick, B.S.
Research Assistant 2

John graduated from Virginia Tech, after receiving an experimental bone marrow transplant during his time in college. This inspired John to study human disease and contribute to the growing field of genetic engineering. Before joining Dr. Mandel’s lab, John worked with DNA editing in iPSCs and CAR-T cells. In the Mandel lab, John is focusing on RNA editing to improve the disease progression of Rett Syndrome caused by MECP2 mutations. Outside of the lab, John enjoys playing basketball and hiking in Washington Park.

Michael Spinner

Michael Spinner, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Mike graduated from the University of Idaho earning degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry and received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Oregon in 2018. During graduate school he studied synapse formation in Drosophila where he identified and characterized novel genes that were required for synapse establishment and axonal transport. In the Mandel lab, he is interested in investigating the role of the transcriptional repressor, REST, and its target genes in aging and neurodegenerative disorders.

John Yung

John Yung, B.S.
Senior Research Assistant

John received his Bachelor of Science from Oregon State University in 2021, where he studied Biology with a focus in Genetics. During his time at OSU he investigated the chemical signaling and molecular mechanisms that occur when plants are infected by bacterial pathogens. In the Mandel Lab, John researches the use of site-directed RNA editing therapy to alleviate the symptoms of Rett Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by mutations in Mecp2, in mice. He is interested in optimizing RNA editing to repair the human MECP2 mutations that cause Rett Syndrome. Outside of the lab John enjoys exploring nature via backpacking, mountain biking, and white-water rafting.