John West obtained his medical degree in Adelaide, Australia, spent 15 years on and off at the Postgraduate Medical School in London, and has been a Professor of Medicine and Physiology at the University of California San Diego since 1969.
He has a long interest in high altitude medicine and physiology and was fortunate to be a member of the Silver Hut Expedition in 1960-1961 which was led by Sir Edmund Hillary with Dr. Griffith Pugh as scientific leader.
In 1981 he led the American Medical Research Expedition to Everest which was responsible for obtaining the first measurements of human physiology on the summit. He continues to have a strong interest in high altitude medicine, and is Editor-in-Chief of the journal High Altitude Medicine & Biology, and editor of the textbook High Altitude Medicine and Physiology.
His research projects have covered several areas of high altitude physiology, particularly the physiology of extreme altitude, and the pathogenesis of high altitude pulmonary edema. A major interest at the present time is assisting people who need to work or travel at high altitude by oxygen enriching the room air. This has proved to be beneficial in telescope facilities and mines at high altitude, and is presently being used in the high altitude Chinese train to Lhasa, Tibet.