James R. West, Ph.D., has been named the first Distinguished Professor for The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center. Dr. West is professor and head of the Department of Human Anatomy and Medical Neurobiology in the A&M System Health Science Center College of Medicine and is a world-renowned expert on fetal alcohol syndrome.
Faculty members are selected as distinguished professors based on their contributions to research and scholarship in their fields and are both nationally and internationally recognized as top active researchers in their areas, having made one or more original, seminal contributions to advancement of knowledge in their area of research.
“Dr. West’s contributions to our College of Medicine, to research across the expanse of the globe and to the advancement of science in general are remarkable,” said Nancy W. Dickey, M.D., president of the A&M System Health Science Center and vice chancellor for health affairs for the A&M System. “We are delighted to honor this great member of our faculty.”
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) consists of birth defects which result from the influence of heavy alcohol intake by the mother during the prenatal period. West is recognized to have “left an indelible mark in the field of FAS research, particularly in the realm of the effects of alcohol on the developing central nervous system,” according to his department’s statement nominating him for promotion to distinguished professor. His work has been published in such prestigious journals as Science.
“Dr. West is an exceptional scientist who fulfills all the criteria for distinguished professor,” said Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., College of Medicine dean. “He has been involved in groundbreaking discoveries that have not only significantly influenced, but, at times, have even redirected where research needed to go in the field of fetal alcohol syndrome.”
West has been at the College of Medicine for 10 years and currently also serves as interim vice president for research for the A&M System Health Science Center. He received his Ph.D. in psychobiology from the University of California, Irvine, and his bachelor?s degree in psychology from Wichita State University. He was recently elected to serve as president-elect (2003-04) of the Association of Anatomy, Cell Biology and Neurobiology Chairpersons (AACBNC).
The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its five components located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology and the School of Rural Public Health.

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