Research Associate Professor
B.S. 1997, Lehigh University (Biochemistry)
Ph.D. 2003, University of Utah, (Neuroscience)
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.
West PJ, Marcy VR, Marino MJ, Schaffhauser H. Activation of the 5-HT6 Receptor Attenuates Long-Term Potentiation and Facilitates GABAergic Neurotransmission in Rat Hippocampus. Neuroscience 2009 164: 692-701
West PJ, Dalpe-Charron A, Wilcox KS. Differential Contribution of Kainate Receptors to EPSCs in Superficial Layer Neurons of the Rat Medial Entorhinal Cortex. Neuroscience 2007 May: 146(3):1000-12.
West PJ, Bulaj G, Olivera BM, Yoshikami D. Effects of delta-conotoxins PVIA and SVIE on sodium channels in the amphibian sympathetic nervous system. Journal of Neurophysiology. 2005 Dec;94(6):3916-24.
Bulaj G*, West PJ*, Garrett JE, Marsh M, Zhang M, Norton RS, Smith BJ, Yoshikami D, Olivera BM. Novel conotoxins from Conus striatus and Conus kinoshitai selectively block TTX-resistant sodium channels. Biochemistry. 2005 May 17;44(19):7259-65 [*]: Authors contributed equally to this work.
Keizer DW, West PJ, Lee EF, Yoshikami D, Olivera BM, Bulaj G, Norton RS. Structural basis for tetrodotoxin-resistant sodium channel binding by conotoxin SmIIIA. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2003 Nov 21;278(47):46805-13.
West PJ, Bulaj G, Garrett JE, Olivera BM, Yoshikami D. Conotoxin SmIIIA, a potent inhibitor of tetrodotoxin-resistant sodium channels in amphibian sympathetic and sensory neurons. Biochemistry. 2002 Dec 24;41(51):15388-93.
Bulaj G, DeLaCruz R, Azimi-Zonooz A, West P, Watkins M, Yoshikami D, Olivera BM. δ-Conotoxin structure/function through a cladistic analysis. Biochemistry. 2001 Nov 6;40(44):13201-8.
Craig AG, Zafaralla G, Cruz LJ, Santos AD, Hillyard DR, Dykert J, Rivier JE, Gray WR, Imperial J, DelaCruz RG, Sporning A, Terlau H, West PJ, Yoshikami D, Olivera BM. An O-glycosylated neuroexcitatory conus peptide. Biochemistry. 1998 Nov 17;37(46):16019-25.