Gail Mandel holds a Ph.D. in immunology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and did postdoctoral work in biochemistry and molecular biology at UCLA; the University of California, San Diego; and Harvard Medical School. She began her career at Tufts Medical School in Boston, where she was one of the first investigators to clone and express mammalian voltage-dependent ion channels. In the department of neurobiology and behavior at Stony Brook University, she identified the protein REST, which is responsible for regulation of sodium channel expression and the acquisition of cellular excitability. These discoveries have helped unlock the mechanisms through which embryonic cell types differentiate specifically into neurons. Currently, Mandel is a senior scientist in the Vollum Institute at Oregon Health & Science University. She is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a member of the American Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Sciences.