PETER J WEST portrait
  • Research Associate Professor, Pharmacology And Toxicology
  • Research Assistant Professor, Pharmacology And Toxicology


  • Cognitive and Behavioral Comorbidities in Epilepsy: The Scenic Route. Pharmacology and Toxicology Department Seminar, University of Montana. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 06/06/2023.
  • A Translational Hypothalamic Hamartoma Rodent Model. 4th International Hypothalamic Hamartoma Symposium, Washington DC. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 09/14/2019.
  • Cognitive and Behavioral Comorbidities in Epilepsy: The Scenic Route. Biology Department Seminar, Swarthmore College. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 12/06/2018.
  • The 5-HT6 receptor: a next-generation drug target for the treatment of cognitive dysfunction. Division of Geriatrics and the VASLC GRECC Geriatrics Research Update Conference. University of Utah. Salt Lake City, UT. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 02/14/2017.
  • Implementation of novel models to address the unmet medical needs in epilepsy treatment. Experimental Biology 2015: ASPET annual meeting. Boston, MA. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 03/30/2015.

Research Groups

  • Jerry Saunders, Technician. ADD Program. 02/01/2010 - present.

Grants, Contracts & Research Gifts

  • Screening of Investigational Compounds to Treat, Modify or Prevent Epilepsy for the NINDS Epilepsy Therapy Screening Program (ETSP). PI: K.S. Wilcox. 01/01/2022 - 01/01/2027. Total project budget to date: $34,201,438.00
  • Development of a novel rodent model of hypothalamic hamartoma and epilepsy. PI: Peter J. West. NINDS, NIH, 01/01/2021 - 01/01/2024. Total project budget to date: $419,375.00
  • Development of a novel mouse model of hypothalamic hamartoma (HH). PI: Peter J. West. 01/01/2019 - 01/01/2020. Total project budget to date: $33,750.00
  • Generation of a novel rat model of hypothalamic hamartomas. PI: Peter J. West. HOPE for Hypothalamic Hamartoma Research Grant Program, 01/01/2017 - 01/01/2018. Total project budget to date: $20,000.00
  • Screening of Investigational Compounds to Treat, Modify or Prevent Epilepsy for the NINDS Epilepsy Therapy Screening Program. PI: K.S. Wilcox. HHSN271201600048C (NINDS, NIH), 01/01/2016 - 01/01/2021. Total project budget to date: $19,415,476.00
  • 5-HT6 localization and function: a prototype target for cognitive therapies. PI: Peter J. West. Center on Aging Pilot Grant Program, University of Utah, 01/01/2015 - 01/01/2016. Total project budget to date: $20,000.00
  • 5-HT6 mediated modulation of LTP and interneuron excitability in hAPP mice. PI: Peter J. West. Research Grants Program, Epilepsy Foundation, 01/01/2012 - 01/01/2013. Total project budget to date: $50,000.00


  • Application of 5-HT6 Receptor Antagonists for the Alleviation of Cognitive Deficits of Down Syndrome. Status: Issued. Inventors: Julie Ruth Korenberg, Karen Sue Wilcox, Peter Jeffrey West, Raymond Pierre Kesner. File date 04/08/2015; Issue date 01/29/2018.

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).


  • English, fluent.


  • Giangrasso DM & Veros KM, Timm MM, West PJ, Wilcox KS, Keefe KA (2023). Glutamate dynamics in the dorsolateral striatum of rats with goal-directed and habitual cocaine-seeking behavior. Front Mol Neurosci. Published, 01/2023.
  • Heruye SH & Warren TJ, IV JAK, Draves SB, Matthews SA, West PJ, Simeone KA, Simeone TA (2022). Ascorbic Acid Reduces Neurotransmission, Synaptic Plasticity, and Spontaneous Hippocampal Rhythms in In Vitro Slices. Nutrients. Published, 03/2022.
  • West PJ & Thomson K, Billingsley P, Pruess T, Rueda C, Saunders GW, Smith MD, Metcalf CS, Wilcox KS (2022). Spontaneous recurrent seizures in an intra-amygdala kainate microinjection model of temporal lobe epilepsy are differentially sensitive to antiseizure drugs. Experimental Neurology. Published, 01/2022.
  • Gibson AS & West PJ, Keefe KA (2022). Effects of methamphetamine-induced neurotoxicity on striatal long-term potentiation. Psychopharmacology. Published, 01/2022.
  • Metcalf CS & Vanegas F, Underwood T, Johnson K, West PJ, Smith MD, Wilcox KS (2021). Screening of prototype antiseizure and anti-inflammatory compounds in the Theiler’s murine encephalomyelitis virus model of epilepsy. Epilepsia Open. Published, 01/2021.
  • Thomson KE & West PJ, Metcalf CS, Wilcox KS (2021). Response: Usefulness of the post-kainate spontaneous recurrent seizure model for screening for antiseizure and for neuroprotective effects. Epilepsia. Published, 01/2021.
  • Cohen NT & Cross JH, Arzimanoglou A, Berkovic SF, Kerrigan JF, Miller IP, Webster E, Soeby L, Cukiert A, Hesdorffer DK, Kroner BL, Saper CB, Schulze-Bonhage A, Gaillard WD, Group the HHW (2021). Hypothalamic Hamartomas. Neurology. Published, 01/2021.
  • Pernici CD & Mensah JA, Dahle EJ, Johnson KJ, Handy L, Buxton L, Smith MD, West PJ, Metcalf CS, Wilcox KS (2021). Development of an antiseizure drug screening platform for Dravet syndrome at the NINDS contract site for the Epilepsy Therapy Screening Program. Epilepsia. Published, 01/2021.
  • Cohen NT & Cross JH, Arzimanoglou A, Berkovic SF, Kerrigan JF, Miller IP, Webster E, Soeby L, Cukiert A, Hesdorffer DK, Kroner BL, Saper CB, Schulze-Bonhage A, Gaillard WD, Group the HHW (2021). Chapter TBD. New Models for Assessment of Antiseizure Activity. (pp. 864 – 873). Vol. 97, Neurology. Published, 01/2021.
  • Thomson KE & Metcalf CS, Newell TG, Huff J, Edwards SF, West PJ, Wilcox KS (2020). Evaluation of subchronic administration of antiseizure drugs in spontaneously seizing rats. Epilepsia. Published, 01/2020.
  • Li X & Himes RA, Prosser LC, Christie CF, Watt E, Edwards SF, Metcalf CS, West PJ, Wilcox KS, Chan SSL, Chou CJ (2020). Discovery of the First Vitamin K Analogue as a Potential Treatment of Pharmacoresistant Seizures. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. Published, 01/2020.
  • P. West & P. Billingsley, T. Pruess, C. Rueda, G. Saunders, M. Smith, C. Metcalf, K. Wilcox (2019). Characterization of an Antiseizure Drug Screening Platform Using an Intra-Amygdala Kainate Microinjection Model of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy in the NINDS-Funded Epilepsy Therapy Screening Program. American Epilepsy Society Meeting, Baltimore, MD. Published, 01/2019.
  • P. West (2016). Spontaneous Electrographic Bursting in the Medial Entorhinal Cortex of Kainate-Lesioned Rats Is Refractory to Multiple Classes of Anti-Seizure Drugs. American Epilepsy Society Meeting, Houston, TX. Published, 01/2016.
  • P. West & L. Woods, C. Dowd, R. Phibbs, W. Zimmermann, P. Billingsley, T. Pruess, C. Rueda, M. Smith, C. Metcalf, K. Wilcox (2016). The effects of spontaneous recurrent seizures on dentate gyrus mediated learning, memory, and synaptic plasticity. American Epilepsy Society Meeting, New Orleans, LA. Published, 01/2016.
  • Wilcox KS, West PJ, Dichter MA & Engel J, Pedley TA, Aicardi J, Dichter MA, Moshé SL (2007). Chapter 22: Excitatory Synaptic Transmission | Book Title: Epilepsy: A Comprehensive Textbook, Second Edition. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Published, 01/2007.