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.

Sayantani Ghosh Dastidar

Sayantani Ghosh Dastidar, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Sayantani completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Zoology from University of Calcutta, India. She received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of North Dakota in 2020, where she studied transcriptional mechanisms and histone dynamics in cancer cells during stress and inflammation. In the Mandel lab, she is working on devising potential therapies using adenovirus for MeCP2 mutations in Rett patients. She is also interested in looking at the role of transcriptional repressor REST protein in the mammalian cell cycle.

Abinaya Ravisankar

Abinaya Ravisankar, M.S.
Graduate Student

Abinaya received a B.Tech. (Bachelor of Technology) in Bioengineering from Sastra University, India with a research thesis at MIT, Boston, where she developed biomimetic hydrogels to study morphogen gradients. After spending a year at Harvard Medical School developing diagnostic biomarker assays for renal disease, she switched to neuroscience. She received an M.S. in Neuroscience from Neurasmus, a European Erasmus Mundus program, with a full scholarship from the EU. She worked on diverse projects — investigating endocytosis in hippocampal neurons at the University of Bordeaux; folic acid deficiency in brain injury at Charite Medical School, Berlin; and allosteric modulation of GPCRs in psychiatric diseases at J & J Pharmaceuticals, Belgium. Post-graduation, she worked at UCSF for two years developing assays to study protein homeostasis in Parkinson's Disease using human iPSC-derived neurons. As a Ph.D. candidate in the Mandel lab, she is interested in studying epigenetic mechanisms mediated by REST during human brain aging using induced neurons directly reprogrammed from fibroblasts.

John Sinnamon

John Sinnamon, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor

John studied Biology at Providence College, earning a B.S. in 2008. He received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2013 from Stony Brook University, where he studied the role of RNA binding proteins in mediating active trafficking of mRNAs in the nervous system. He joined the Mandel lab to pioneer the potential of site-directed RNA editing to correct mutations in Mecp2, the gene that causes the neurodevelopmental disorder, Rett Syndrome. John is also interested in using mouse models of Rett Syndrome to study how different mutations in Mecp2 affect chromatin structure and how these changes relate to the disease.

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.
Research Assistant 2

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 researched the chemical signaling and molecular mechanisms that occur when plants are infected by bacterial pathogens. In the Mandel Lab John assists with the maintenance of mouse colonies, which model the neurodevelopmental disorder Rett Syndrome through mutations in the gene Mecp2. He also helps in cloning reagents useful in repairing human Mecp2 mutations. Outside of the lab John enjoys exploring nature via backpacking, mountain biking, and white water rafting.