Lori J. West MD, DPhil

Alberta Transplant Institute; University of Alberta

Dr. West received her medical degree from Tulane University in New Orleans. She studied transplant immunology in the laboratories of Prof. Peter Morris and Prof. Kathryn Wood at the University of Oxford, U.K., and was awarded a doctor of philosophy degree for her work in neonatal immune tolerance. She obtained further training in pediatric thoracic transplantation at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and Loma Linda University. Beginning in 1994, Dr. West served as Medical Director of the Heart Transplant Program at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. She re-located to Edmonton in 2005, where she is a Professor of Pediatrics, Surgery and Immunology, Director of Cardiac Transplantation Research and Director of Research for Alberta Institute for Transplant Sciences at the University of Alberta. Dr. West is also a Senior Scholar for Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions and she holds a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Cardiac Transplantation.
Dr. West’s academic and clinical activities center on pediatric cardiac transplantation and transplant immunobiology, including translation of basic science research concepts to clinical application in infants and children undergoing heart transplantation. Her clinical work resulted in a pioneering strategy for increasing donor availability for infants by crossing the ABO barrier, with the prediction that, in contrast to adults, ABO-incompatible heart transplantation would be safe in immunologically immature recipients. This protocol has had a global impact on the practice of pediatric heart transplantation. Moreover, her investigations of immune development of infants after ABO-incompatible transplantation led to the first demonstration of neonatal tolerance in humans with the finding of donor-specific B cell tolerance. She is now leading an international collaboration in subsequent study of this unique patient population.

The overall umbrella of Dr. West’s cardiac transplant research program includes drug therapy strategies in pediatric transplant populations and outcomes analyses, including quality-of-life outcomes of pediatric organ transplantation. Dr. West is also a leader in basic science research in transplantation. The work of her team using murine models of neonatal tolerance demonstrated that neonatally-induced acceptance of cardiac allografts is related to induction of regulatory T cells by the cardiac graft, a finding with potentially important clinical applications for antenatally diagnosed patients with congenital heart disease requiring neonatal heart transplantation. Her research team has also developed a murine model of ABO-incompatible transplantation using a novel lentiviral gene transfer strategy, which is providing a new platform for investigation of research questions in antibody-mediated rejection and B cell tolerance.