Dr. Anthony R. West, Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School, received his Ph.D. in Cellular and Clinical Neurobiology in 1997 from Wayne State University, School of Medicine. From 1997-2002, he trained as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Professor Anthony A. Grace in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. West joined the Department of Neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School in 2002. Dr. West's research focuses on the interaction between striatal nitric oxide producing interneurons and dopamine afferents and their role in regulating the neural activity of striatal medium spiny projection neurons.
The overarching goal of Dr. West's research is to improve our understanding of how these systems function to regulate striatal output in normal animals and rodent models of the pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia. Dr. West's research has been supported by the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, the Tourette Syndrome Association, Pfizer Inc., the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Honors include predoctoral and postdoctoral National Research Service Awards from NIH, NARSAD Young Investigator Awards (2000-2002; 2004-2006), CINP Rafaelsen Fellowship, and the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science Board of Trustees Award. Dr. West is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the International Basal Ganglia Society, and the American Physiological Society.
Dr. West’s research is focused on determining the role of dopamine and nitric oxide (NO) in modulating the electrophysiological activity of striatal medium spiny projection neurons. NO is a gaseous neurotransmitter produced by a subclass of striatal aspiny interneurons. The function of these interneurons is intimately tied to that of the striatal dopamine system and is compromised in neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD). Thus, recent studies indicate that dopaminergic afferents innervate NO-releasing interneurons in the nucleus accumbens and dorsal striatum and modulate their activity via D1 receptor activation. Our studies have shown that striatal NO signaling potently modulates the activity of striatal projection neurons and indirectly regulates dopamine neuron activity via its influence on corticostriatal and striatonigral circuits. In order to further examine the influence of tonic dopamine and NO on the membrane properties of identified striatal projection neurons, we have developed a novel method for combining microdialysis and intracellular recording in vivo. Our studies have revealed that this is a powerful technique for studying the influence of NO and dopamine on the function of identified neural networks in the intact brain. We anticipate that further characterization of the function of these neuromodulatory systems will advance our understanding of normal and pathological basal ganglia function and identify potential molecular targets for pharmacotherapy for brain disorders, such as PD and schizophrenia.