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Peter J. West

Peter J. West

Research Assistant Professor


Education and Training:

  • B.S. 1997, Lehigh University (Biochemistry)
  • Ph.D. 2003, University of Utah, (Neuroscience)


Research Interests

Dr. West is interested in the pathophysiology and treatment of diseases that affect cognition. His research is conducted both independently and in collaboration with the Epilepsy Therapy Screening Program (ETSP, Principal Investigator: Karen Wilcox, Ph.D.) where he is a co-investigator. In this capacity, he directs studies developing novel animal models of pharmacoresistant seizures and determining the efficacy and cognitive side-effect profiles of proprietary investigational compounds.

Dr. West’s independently funded research is focused on understanding the pathophysiology of cognitive comorbidities associated with epilepsy. In order to identify novel molecular targets and test potential treatments, an understanding of the pathophysiological basis of cognitive deficit in epilepsy must first be obtained and preclinical model systems must be developed. Accordingly, studies intended to characterize synaptic plasticity deficits and cognitive dysfunction in animal models of Epilepsy are underway.

Furthermore, his laboratory is developing the first rodent model of pediatric epilepsy due to abnormal hypothalamic development (hypothalamic hamartoma); one goal of this research is to better understand the developmental origin of gelastic (laughing) seizures in this patient population and their concurrent cognitive dysfunction. Dr. West’s laboratory employs genetic, electrophysiological, pharmacological, immunohistochemical, and behavioral techniques to achieve these goals. Of particular note, the lab uses specialized equipment which allows the experimenter to perform simultaneous recordings from multiple brain slices, thus allowing for the high-throughput evaluation of numerous electrophysiological phenomena associated with learning and memory (e.g. synaptic plasticity).


    • Wilcox KS, West PJ, Metcalf CS. The Current Approach of the Epilepsy Therapy Screening Program Contract Site for Identifying Improved Therapies for the Treatment of Pharmacoresistant Seizures in Epilepsy. Neuropharmacology. 2019; :107811.
    • Umpierre AD, West PJ, White JA, et al. Conditional Knockout of mGluR5 from Astrocytes during Epilepsy Development Impairs High-Frequency Glutamate Uptake. Journal of Neuroscience. 2018.
    • West PJ, Saunders GW, Billingsley P, et al. Recurrent epileptiform discharges in the medial entorhinal cortex of kainate-treated rats are differentially sensitive to antiseizure drugs. Epilepsia. 2018; 59:2035–48.
    • Basu R, Duan X, Taylor MR, et al. Heterophilic Type II Cadherins Are Required for High-Magnitude Synaptic Potentiation in the Hippocampus. Neuron. 2017; 96:160–8.
    • Nagarajan N, Jones BW, West PJ, et al. Corticostriatal circuit defects in Hoxb8 mutant mice. Mol Psychiatry. 2017; 525:1.
    • Remigio GJ, Loewen JL, Heuston S, et al. Corneal kindled C57BL/6 mice exhibit saturated dentate gyrus long-term potentiation and associated memory deficits in the absence of overt neuron loss. Neurobiology of Disease. 2017; 105:221–34.
    • Metcalf CS, West PJ, Thomson KE, et al. Development and pharmacologic characterization of the rat 6 Hz model of partial seizures. Epilepsia. 3rd ed. 2017; 58:1073–84.
    • Barker-Haliski ML, Johnson K, Billingsley P, et al. Validation of a Preclinical Drug Screening Platform for Pharmacoresistant Epilepsy. Neurochem Res. 6 ed. 2017; 161:695.
    • Patel DC, Wallis G, Dahle EJ, et al. Hippocampal TNFα Signaling Contributes to Seizure Generation in an Infection-Induced Mouse Model of Limbic Epilepsy. eNeuro. 2017; 4.
    • Kaufmann D, West PJ, Smith MD, et al. sec-Butylpropylacetamide (SPD), a new amide derivative of valproic acid for the treatment of neuropathic and inflammatory pain. Pharmacol Res. 2016; 117:129–39.
    • Walls AB, Flynn SP, West PJ, et al. The anticonvulsant action of the galanin receptor agonist NAX-5055 involves modulation of both excitatory- and inhibitory neurotransmission. Epilepsy Res. 2016; 121:55–63.
    • Gee JM, Smith NA, Fernandez FR, et al. Imaging Activity in Neurons and Glia with a Polr2a-Based and Cre-Dependent GCaMP5G-IRES-tdTomato Reporter Mouse. Neuron. 2014; 83:1058–72.
    • Umpierre AD, Remigio GJ, Dahle EJ, et al. Impaired cognitive ability and anxiety-like behavior following acute seizures in the Theiler's virus model of temporal lobe epilepsy. Neurobiology of Disease. 2014; 64:98–106.
    • West PJ, Saunders GW, Remigio GJ, et al. Antiseizure drugs differentially modulate θ-burst induced long-term potentiation in C57BL/6 mice. Epilepsia. 2014; 55:214–23.
    • West PJ, Marcy VR, Marino MJ, et al. Activation of the 5-HT(6) receptor attenuates long-term potentiation and facilitates GABAergic neurotransmission in rat hippocampus. Neuroscience. 2009; 164:692–701.
    • West PJ, Dalpé-Charron A, Wilcox KS. Differential contribution of kainate receptors to excitatory postsynaptic currents in superficial layer neurons of the rat medial entorhinal cortex. Neuroscience. 2007; 146:1000–12.
    • West PJ, Bulaj G, Yoshikami D. Effects of delta-conotoxins PVIA and SVIE on sodium channels in the amphibian sympathetic nervous system. J Neurophysiol. 2005; 94:3916–24.
    • Bulaj G, West PJ, Garrett JE, et al. Novel conotoxins from Conus striatus and Conus kinoshitai selectively block TTX-resistant sodium channels. Biochemistry. 2005; 44:7259–65.
    • Keizer DW, West PJ, Lee EF, et al. Structural basis for tetrodotoxin-resistant sodium channel binding by mu-conotoxin SmIIIA. J Biol Chem. 2003; 278:46805–13.
    • West PJ, Bulaj G, Garrett JE, et al. Mu-conotoxin SmIIIA, a potent inhibitor of tetrodotoxin-resistant sodium channels in amphibian sympathetic and sensory neurons. Biochemistry. 2002; 41:15388–93.
    • Bulaj G, DeLaCruz R, Azimi-Zonooz A, et al. Delta-conotoxin structure/function through a cladistic analysis. Biochemistry. 2001; 40:13201–8.
    • Craig AG, Zafaralla G, Cruz LJ, et al. An O-glycosylated neuroexcitatory conus peptide. Biochemistry. 1998; 37:16019–25.