Environmental Factor, November 2009, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Upcoming Distinguished Lecturer Gail Mandel
By Eddy Ball
The 2009-2010 NIEHS Distinguished Lecture series continues this month with a November 12 talk by Gail Mandel, Ph.D., on "Repression Mechanisms and Neuronal Phenotype." Hosted by NIEHS Principal Investigators Serena Dudek, Ph.D., and Paul Wade, Ph.D., Mandel's talk is scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m. in Rodbell Auditorium.
Mandel (http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/research/centers-institutes/vollum/faculty/faculty-profile.cfm?facultyID=465) is a senior scientist at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) Vollum Institute in Portland and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 2008, she was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
By exploring how neuronal cell identity is established and maintained, Mandel's studies of gene regulation in neural differentiation have helped define the critical differences between specification of neural and non-neural cells. Her lab made the important discovery that neuronal cell identity is achieved primarily through a repressor mechanism. At the heart of this mechanism lies the DNA-binding protein, REST, which together with its interaction partners, controls the epigenetic status of neuronal gene chromatin.
Knowledge of this mechanism provides a window into the molecular events governing nervous system formation. Her work is highly relevant to understanding the causes of neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as developing novel therapies for neurological diseases.