Dr. John B. West, UCSD Division of PhysiologyWorld leaders in respiratory research gathered here in a special symposium December 14 to honor the career of a luminary UCSD scientist and educator, Professor John B. West, MD, PhD, DSc, a member of the Division of Physiology in the UCSD Department of Medicine.

Dr. West is a world-renowned respiratory physiologist and high-altitude scientist and historian.

During the past 50 years, he has illuminated diverse aspects of respiratory physiology and has inspired countless other researchers around the world.

He is Distinguished Professor of Medicine at UCSD, and will become Professor Emeritus in January 2008. However, he plans to continue unabated his current roles in research, education and writing.

Titled “A High Life” and known here on campus as the “WestFest,” the December 14 event paid tribute to the first 50 years of Dr. West’s scientific career with a day-long program of presentations.

“The celebration was a great success,” said Dr. Peter D. Wagner, Chief of the Division of Physiology and lead organizer of the WestFest.

He said nearly 100 distinguished visitors, UCSD faculty, and guests attended the day-long event.  View the symposium program (PDF)

Cover of brochure for A High Life, a symposium in honor of Dr. John B. WestThe WestFest presenters spoke on seven facets of respiratory function, addressing all of the major areas into which Dr. West’s groundbreaking work has extended.

Dr. West’s studies have explored the effects of reduced gravity and, separately, decreased oxygen availability on pulmonary function, in venues from Tibet and Everest to the International Space Station. His findings are published in over 450 scientific articles and more than 20 books.

He was the first to study the respiratory effects of high altitude on the high slopes of Everest, joining Sir Edmund Hillary in the Silver Hut expedition of 1960-1961.

The WestFest program concluded with Dr. West’s own retrospective, “Highs and Lows in Three Countries.”

After the presentations, Dr. Ken Kaushansky, Helen M. Ranney Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine, presented Dr. West with a framed copy of the day’s program signed by all speakers, a bound volume of tributes penned by many of Dr. West’s colleagues who could not attend, and a bound edition of all of his research papers from 1957-2007.

The day’s events ended with an evening reception and dinner at the UCSD Faculty Club.

The symposium was recorded on video and will be released as a 4-DVD set in January 2008.

Cover of brochure for A High Life, a symposium in honor of Dr. John B. West
Available on DVD
in January 2008

To order copies of the DVD set: Send an email to Dr. Wagner (pdwagner@ucsd.edu) or Lisa Richter (lmrichter@ucsd.edu) with:

  • Your contact information
  • The number of sets you wish to purchase.

Payment ($25.00 per 4-DVD set) will be requested when the DVDs are ready for mailing in early January.

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