UW News

April 5, 2007

Mandel to present Hille Memorial Lecture April 12

Dr. Gail Mandel, senior scientist at the Vollum Institute at Oregon Health & Science University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, will present the Einar Hille Memorial Lecture in Neurosciences, sponsored by the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. She will speak on The Rise and Fall of REST: Creating the Nervous System from noon to 1 p.m., Thursday, April 12, in the Foege Auditorium, S-060. The lecture is open to everyone.

Mandel’s work focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying regulation of gene expression and function in the nervous system. Cells in the nervous system derive their properties from the complex array of genes they express. In particular, genes for ion channels and receptors determine the electrical properties of neurons and how they will respond to stimuli. Expressing the right proteins at the right time is essential for a healthy nervous system, and the malfunction of gene regulation likely plays a role in a number of neuronal diseases.

The Mandel lab was the first to discover a transcription factor called REST, a master controller of excitability genes expressed only in the nervous system. REST is also expressed in non-neuronal cells where it functions as a tumor suppressor. In her lecture, Mandel will give an overview of her lab’s recent work on the role of transcriptional repression in formation of the nervous system. She will present a model for how dynamic changes in chromatin, orchestrated by REST or its partners, can regulate both neural development as well as plasticity of mature neural cells.

Mandel received her bachelor’s degree and doctoral degree in biology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

After postdoctoral studies in biochemistry and molecular biology at UCLA and the University of California, San Diego, Mandel held positions at Harvard Medical School, Tufts- New England Medical Center, and Stony Brook University. At Stony Brook, she achieved the rank of distinguished professor and was appointed an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. During her distinguished career, Mandel has won a number of awards, including appointment as fellow of the AAAS, Jacob J. Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award, and McKnight Investigator Award in Neurosciences.

The Einar Hille Memorial Lecture in Neurosciences was established by Kirsti Hille in honor of her late husband. Dr. Hille was a professor of Mathematics at Yale University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Bertil Hille, son of Einar and Kirsti Hille, is the Wayne E. Crill Endowed Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at the UW.