Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr John West

UoE Retired Staff


John West graduated with a 1st class honours degree in Biological Sciences from the University of East Anglia and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. He undertook postdoctoral research in Buffalo, USA, the University of Oxford and the MRC Radiobiology Unit, Harwell, before joining the University of Edinburgh Obstetrics & Gynaecology Dept as a lecturer in 1984. He was promoted to senior lecturer in 1995 and reader in 2005. He remains affiliated to Obstetrics & Gynaecology but in 1998 he moved his research group to work with the Genes & Development Group, which is now in the Centre for Integrative Physiology.

Current Research Interests

My research in a nutshell

The cornea forms a transparent, impermeable barrier, which refracts light at the anterior surface of the eye. Cells are constantly being shed from the surface of the corneal epithelium (outer 5-6 cell layers) and these have to be replaced in order to maintain a constant thickness. Stem cells divide to maintain themselves and produce new corneal epithelial cells, which move across the corneal radius and replace those that are shed from the surface. We are using different model systems to distinguish between competing hypotheses about where the stem cells are located and understand how gene defects can lead to impaired corneal epithelial maintenance that may lead to blindness.


Funded by Biotechnology and Biological Research Council.

Research Interests

I am interested in stem cells that maintain the mouse corneal epithelium, mouse genetic defects that cause corneal epithelial abnormalities and genetic mosaics.


Some teaching responsibilities ended in 2014/15, as indicated, because I will be retiring in 2016.

Biomedical Sciences 2 – lectures and essays (until 2014/15)

Reproductive Biology 3 – lectures, practicals and essays (until 2014/15)

Developmental Biology 3 – lectures, workshops and essays (until 2014/15)

Honours Research Skills in Reproductive Biology course for honours Reproductive Biology (4th year) – self-directed learning lectures and feedback

Honours elective course in Conception to Parturition (4th year) – lectures

MSc courses. I give two lectures on data analysis to a combined class that includes MSc by research Biomedical Sciences, MSc by research Biomedical Sciences (Zhejiang), MSc by research Infectious Diseases, MSc by research Integtrated Neuroscience and MSc by research Reproductive Biology).

Member of examination board or course advisory group for 3rd year Developmental Biology (1995-2015), 3rd year Reproductive Biology (2002-2015) and 4th year Honours Reproductive Biology (2004-2015).

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