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).