Peter J. West
Research Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Neurobiology of Disease
B.S. 1997, Lehigh University; Ph.D. 2004, University of Utah
Neuropharmacology of synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory in epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, and Down syndrome
Dr. West is a staff scientist in the NIH sponsored Anticonvulsant Drug Development Program where he directs studies determining the electrophysiological mechanism of action of proprietary investigational compounds. Additionally, his research is focused on the pharmacological treatment of diseases that affect cognition such as Epilepsy, Down syndrome, and Alzheimer's disease. In order to identify novel molecular targets and test potential treatments, an understanding of the pathophysiological basis of cognitive deficit in these diseases must first be obtained and preclinical model systems must be developed. Presently, studies intended to characterize synaptic plasticity deficits in animal models of Epilepsy and Down syndrome are underway. Furthermore, these projects seek to discover and characterize novel treatments to correct these deficits (in the case of Down Syndrome) or to treat seizures and prevent epileptogenesis without affecting synaptic plasticity associated with learning and memory (in the case of Epilepsy). To achieve these goals, the lab currently uses electrophysiological, pharmacological, and immunohistochemical techniques. Of particular note, Dr. West's laboratory uses specialized equipment which allows the experimenter to perform simultaneous recordings from multiple brain slices, thus allowing for the high-throughput screening of compounds for their effects on long-term synaptic plasticity in a manner that accounts for the day-to-day variability often observed in physiological experiments that use in-vitro brain slices.