Scope and Content of Collection
West, John B. -- (John Burnard)
Title: John B. West Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1957 - 1998
60.60 linear feet
(151 archives boxes, 7 oversized folders, and 1 records carton)
Abstract: Papers of John B. West (b. 1928), professor of physiology, researcher in high-altitude medicine and adaptation, author, and
leader of the 1981 American Medical Research Expedition to Mt. Everest (AMREE). West participated in Sir Edmund Hillary's
1960-1961 Himalayan Scientific and Mountaineering Expedition (Silver Hut). West has been an active faculty member in the
Division of Physiology at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine since 1969. The papers document the
AMREE expedition, including correspondence, planning materials, photographs, and diaries, as well as West's physiology research
projects for the NASA Spacelab Life Sciences program. The bulk of the papers date from the early 1960s to the late 1990s
and include correspondence, journal articles and other writings, subject files, travel material, grants, teaching materials,
and research files.
University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.
La Jolla, California 92093-0175
Collection number: MSS 0444
Language of Material:
Collection materials in English
The course examination materials in boxes 113-115 are restricted by donor.
John B. West Papers, MSS 0444. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.
Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.
John B. West was born in Adelaide, Australia, in 1928. He received a medical degree from the University of Adelaide at the
age of 23. After a year of residency, he moved to London, where he earned his Ph.D. from London University (1960) and began
postdoctoral work at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School. West's early research used oxygen-15 to study the topographical
inequality of blood flow caused by gravity and gravity's effect on regional differences of ventilation, gas exchange, and
In 1960, West, who had no previous mountain climbing experience, applied and was accepted to Sir Edmund Hillary's Himalayan
Scientific and Mountaineering Expedition of 1960-1961. Referred to as the Silver Hut expedition, the physiologists performed
a variety of experiments at high altitudes just south of Mt. Everest and on Mt. Malaku. This experience ignited West's interest
in high-altitude medicine and physiology. In 1981, West led the American Medical Research Expedition to Everest (AMREE),
during which five climbers reached the summit and the first physiological measurements of the summit were made. West continues
to study human adaptation to extreme oxygen deprivation at high-altitudes.
After returning from the Silver Hut expedition, West spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow and assistant professor at the
University of New York-Buffalo. West returned to London and the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in 1962, where he remained
director of the Medical Research Council Respiratory Group for five years. In 1967-1968, West took a period of sabbatical
leave to further study the effects of gravity on the lung at the NASA Ames Research Center. While at NASA, West submitted
a proposal to NASA to study pulmonary function in astronauts. The proposal was funded and continues to receive financial
support from the agency. The study has sent four experiments on four Spacelabs in orbit and one experiment to the International
West came to the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine in 1969 and remains an active faculty member. His
laboratory experiments have covered a wide range of subjects including studies of ventilation-perfusion inequality in the
lung, pulmonary circulation, and the regulation of the blood-gas barrier in the lung. In addition to his laboratory work,
West has been in charge of the physiology course for first-year medical students for over 30 years and has taught several
courses on the history of medicine and high-altitude physiology.
West has received many honors, including president of the American Physiological Society (1984-1985), foreign member of the
Russian Academy of Sciences, founding fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, honorary doctorate
from the University of Barcelona, and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Scope and Content of Collection
The papers of physiologist John B. West document his laboratory research in the field of high-altitude physiology, his involvement
in several research expeditions to Mt. Everest, his work as an investigator with the NASA Spacelab program, his interest in
the history of physiology, and his experience as a professor and administrator at the University of California, San Diego.
The papers contain correspondence, materials for books and articles by West, grants and proposals, travel material, subject
files, teaching materials, and research files. The collection dates from the early 1960s through the late 1990s. The materials
are arranged in eleven series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) BOOKS, 3) ARTICLES, 4) LECTURES, 5) RESEARCH FILES, 6) AMERICAN MEDICAL
RESEARCH EXPEDITION TO EVEREST, 7) NASA SPACELAB LIFE SCIENCES, 8) TEACHING MATERIALS, 9) TRAVEL MATERIALS, 10) UCSD SCHOOL
OF MEDICINE, and 11) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS.
SERIES 1: CORRESPONDENCE
The CORRESPONDENCE series is arranged in two subseries: A) General Correspondence and B) Outgoing Chronological Correspondence.
A) The General Correspondence subseries contains West's incoming and outgoing correspondence with prominent researchers in
the field of physiology, including E.R. Buskirk, David Bruce Dill, Thomas Hornbein, Herbert Hultgren, Ulrich Luft, James Milledge,
Carlos Monge, and L.G.C.E. Pugh; professional organizations; historical researchers; and students interested in his work.
The subseries does not contain correspondence directly related to West's writings, travel, or university committee work; those
materials can be found in subsequent series. The material is arranged alphabetically by correspondent.
B) The Outgoing Chronological Correspondence gathers West's outgoing correspondence from the first half of 1988.
SERIES 2: BOOKS
The BOOKS series consists of subseries for each book title arranged chronologically by the order of publication. While the
series contains material related to the majority of West's published books, several titles are not represented. The series
contains fourteen subseries: A) VENTILATION/BLOODFLOW AND GAS EXCHANGE, B) THE USE OF RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS IN THE STUDY
OF LUNG FUNCTION, C) RESPIRATORY PHYSIOLOGY - THE ESSENTIALS, D) TRANSLATIONS IN RESPIRATORY PHYSIOLOGY, E) REGIONAL DIFFERENCES
IN THE LUNG, F) BIOENGINEERING ASPECTS OF THE LUNG, G) PULMONARY PATHOPHYSIOLOGY - THE ESSENTIALS, H) PULMONARY GAS EXCHANGE,
I) HIGH ALTITUDE PHYSIOLOGY, J) BEST AND TAYLOR'S PHYSIOLOGICAL BASIS OF MEDICAL PRACTICE, K) EVEREST - THE TESTING PLACE,
L) STUDY GUIDE AND SELF-EXAMINATION REVIEW FOR BEST AND TAYLOR'S PHYSIOLOGICAL BASIS OF MEDICAL PRACTICE, M) HIGH ALTITUDE
MEDICINE AND PHYSIOLOGY, and N) THE LUNG: SCIENTIFIC FOUNDATIONS.
A) The VENTILATION/BLOODFLOW AND GAS EXCHANGE materials contain correspondence and drafts related to the publication of the
third (1977) and fourth (1985) editions of the book.
B) The USE OF RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS IN THE STUDY OF LUNG FUNCTION subseries contains correspondence and the published monograph
C) The RESPIRATORY PHYSIOLOGY - THE ESSENTIALS materials document the production of the first (1974), second (1980), third
(1985), fourth (1990), and fifth (1995) English editions of the book through correspondence, drafts, page proofs, galleys,
D) The TRANSLATIONS IN RESPIRATORY PHYSIOLOGY subseries includes correspondence and notes related to the West's role as editor
of the 1975 volume.
E) The REGIONAL DIFFERENCES IN THE LUNG materials contain correspondence, chapter reprints, and reviews of the book edited
by West in 1977.
F) The BIOENGINEERING ASPECTS OF THE LUNG subseries contains correspondence and reviews of the 1977 publication edited by
G) The PULMONARY PATHOPHYSIOLOGY - THE ESSENTIALS materials include correspondence, drafts, notes, and reviews that document
the production and publication of the first (1977), second (1982), and third (1987) editions of the book.
H) The PULMONARY GAS EXCHANGE subseries includes materials related to the production of the book and West's role as editor
and contributor, including correspondence with the publisher and each contributor, drafts, and page proofs for each chapter,
and reviews of the published work.
I) The HIGH ALTITUDE PHYSIOLOGY materials, which include correspondence and drafts of the table of contents and translated
contributions, document West's role as editor of the publication.
J) The BEST AND TAYLOR'S PHYSIOLOGICAL BASIS OF MEDICAL PRACTICE subseries includes correspondence, draft materials, and
page proofs for the twelfth edition (1991), edited by West. The material is arranged by chapter with general planning materials
at the beginning of the subseries and post-publication materials such as book reviews at the end. Correspondence with editors
for each section of the book can also be found at the end of the subseries. The subseries does not include materials related
to West's work as editor of the book's eleventh edition. Materials documenting West's editorial work on the book's study
guide (STUDY GUIDE FOR SELF-EXAMINATION REVIEW FOR BEST AND TAYLOR'S PHYSIOLOGICAL BASIS OF MEDICAL PRACTICE) can be found
in a separate subseries.
K) The EVEREST - THE TESTING PLACE subseries includes correspondence, drafts, and proofs for West's 1985 book about the American
Medical Research Expedition to Mt. Everest.
L) The STUDY GUIDE AND SELF-EXAMINATION REVIEW FOR BEST AND TAYLOR'S PHYSIOLOGICAL BASIS OF MEDICAL PRACTICE materials contain
correspondence and professional reviews submitted by colleagues for the guide edited by West to accompany the eleventh edition
of BEST AND TAYLOR'S PHYSIOLOGICAL BASIS OF MEDICAL PRACTICE (1985).
M) The HIGH ALTITUDE MEDICINE AND PHYSIOLOGY subseries includes contracts, correspondence, notes, and reviews for the first
(1989) and second (1995) editions of the book, co-edited by West with Michael P. Ward and James S. Milledge.
N) The materials related to THE LUNG: SCIENTIFIC FOUNDATIONS include preliminary planning documents and production materials
for each chapter assigned to West as editor. In addition to editing several sections of the book, West also contributed to
chapters 5.3.4, 8.1.1, and 8.1.4. Correspondence and typescripts are included for most of West's edited chapters.
SERIES 3: ARTICLES
The ARTICLES series contains two subseries: A) Numbered Published Articles and B) Unnumbered Articles.
A) The Numbered Published Articles subseries contains materials for the majority of the articles published by West before
1998. Each folder contains a reprint for the article as well as materials related to the writing and publication of the article,
including correspondence with journals and collaborators, research materials, notes, data, drafts, and page proofs.
B) The subseries entitled Unnumbered Articles comprises articles not represented on Dr. West's publication list. This includes
typescript drafts, letters to the editor, anecdotes, and correspondence surrounding articles with the expectancy of publication.
The materials are arranged alphabetically by title.
SERIES 4: LECTURES
This series, arranged chronologically, includes a portion of lectures given by Dr. West at different symposiums and honorariums
dating from 1962-1991. Included here are the typescripts for the lectures and other miscellaneous notes.
SERIES 5: RESEARCH FILES
The RESEARCH FILES series is arranged in four subseries: A) Grant Files, B) Project Files, C) Postgraduate Research Files,
and D) Subject Files.
A) The bulk of the Grant Materials subseries consists of Dr. West's collaborative grant with other scientists, including Dr.
Odile Mathieu-Costello, entitled the "Program Project" - STRESS FAILURE IN PULMONARY CAPILLARIES. The material is mainly
related correspondence, grant renewal applications, and site visit notes dating from 1985-1987.
B) The materials in the Project Files subseries are arranged according to the alphanumeric filing system originally used by
West. The original folder titles have also been retained. Several of the folders included in this batch of materials correlated
with articles written by West. Those materials have been extracted from this subseries and moved to the Numbered Published
Articles subseries in the ARTICLES series. The remaining project files contain correspondence, notes, data, and figures pertaining
to West's research. Most of the files are dated between 1970 and 1979.
C) The Postgraduate Research Files subseries documents the research West completed during his postgraduate years (1962-1967).
West's original folder titles have been retained. The materials, arranged alphabetically, include notes, data, and figures
for various experiments.
D) The Subject Files subseries, arranged alphabetically by title, includes miscellaneous subject materials related to West's
research interests, including several folders related to the history of high-altitude physiology. These files contain correspondence,
notes, maps, and other research materials.
SERIES 6: AMERICAN MEDICAL RESEARCH EXPEDITION TO EVEREST (AMREE)
In 1981, John West led an expedition team to Mount Everest focusing on high altitude pulmonary respiration research. The
AMREE series contains several different components of the expedition arranged in nine subseries: A) Correspondence, B) Expedition
Team Recruitment, C) Experiments and Research, D) Fundraising, E) Grants, F) Instrumentation and Equipment, G) Operation Everest
II, H) Photographs, I) Publicity, J) Writings, and K) Miscellaneous.
A) The Correspondence subseries mainly consists of communications between the expedition team of contributing scientists,
Nepalese travel accommodations, equipment companies, and John West. Notable correspondence from Dr. James Milledge is included.
B) The Expedition Team Recruitment subseries includes the biographies, participation agreements, physical examination and
consent forms of the contributing scientists and climbers to the 1981 expedition. The subseries also contains letters of
decline sent from Dr. West to the participants not chosen for the expedition.
C) The bulk of the material in the series is contained in the Experiments and Research subseries. The research focused around
pulmonary function at extreme oxygen deprived high altitudes. The experiments were conducted at various camp locations and
on the summit of Mount Everest and include baseline readings, exercise, sleep, psychological and hormone level studies, oxygen
electrocardiograms, and chest radiographs. The majority of the material is raw data and notes. This series is arranged alphabetically.
D) The Fundraising subseries, arranged alphabetically, constitutes mainly of correspondence with high altitude research related
organizations such as the American Lung Association, National Geographic Society, and the American Heart Association. An
extensive fundraising campaign was instigated in order to raise the funds for the expedition and research. The subseries
also contains a campaign proposal and miscellaneous notes.
E) Similarly, the Grant Materials subseries, arranged alphabetically, comprises proposals and award letters related to UCSD
grant support for the 1981 Mount Everest expedition. The subseries also contains the projections for budgets and equipment
F) The Instrumentation and Equipment subseries, arranged alphabetically, contains a collection of brochures, correspondence,
diagrams, and schematic drawings pertaining to the equipment relevant for high altitude exploration and basic medical procedures.
G) The Operation Everest II subseries consists of materials relative to the proposal of a second simulated human acclimatization
study using techniques not available on mountain environments. The studies were carried out at the Army Institute of Environmental
Medicine in Natick, Massachusetts. The correspondence and grant materials date between 1982-1985.
H) The Photographs subseries includes expedition-related images illustrating various camp sites, equipment, and environment
and documenting the research experiments executed at the summit. A large majority of the negatives have been separated and
placed in the Archive Negative File. The positive images for these negatives are located in Box 90, Folders 1-8.
I) The Publicity subseries, also arranged alphabetically, contains several newsletters reporting on the preparation and the
progress of the expedition beginning in 1980. Also included are the newsletter stats and layouts, news clippings, and articles
concerning the expedition.
J) Included in the Writing subseries are the diary accounts by John West, radio communication transcripts, debriefing reports,
and the CHRONICLE OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL RESEARCH EXPEDITION TO EVEREST in draft and print form. The book entitled EVEREST-THE
TESTING PLACE has been separated from the original order and placed in the BOOKS BY WEST Series.
K) The Miscellaneous subseries contains, among other things, the 1980 Mammoth Mountain test videocassette, area maps, camp
logistics, materials from the 1982 AMREE exhibition at UCSD and AMREE organization articles of incorporation and bylaws.
SERIES 7: NASA SPACELAB LIFE SCIENCES
The NASA SPACELAB LIFE SCIENCES series contains material from Dr. West's contribution to the NASA Space Program as a principal
and co-investigator on several Spacelab Life Science missions to study pulmonary function in microgravity and as a member
of a number of advisory committees and task forces. This series is arranged in five subseries: A) Committees, B) Correspondence,
C) Grant Materials, D) Research, and E) Miscellaneous.
A) The Committees subseries, arranged alphabetically, documents West's involvement with such committees as the Life Science
Advisory Committee, Aerospace Medicine Advisory Committee, and as a member of the National Academy of Science/National Research
Council. The majority of the material is correspondence between committee members and scientists.
B) The Correspondence subseries, arranged alphabetically, is primarily to or from John West and various scientists and university
faculty and details the activity and growth of the microgravity research accomplished from 1985-1997.
C) The Grant Materials subseries is arranged by date of grant proposal. The bulk of the material concerns the experiment
"Pulmonary Function During/In Weightlessness" and the corresponding applications and proposals from 1979-1995.
D) The bulk of the series material is contained in the Research subseries, arranged chronologically. Dr. West began the lung
in weightlessness experiments at the Ames Research Center in 1967-1968 and resumed research again in the early 1980s. The
material comprises documents from the Life Science Spacelabs, the Neurolab Integrated Research Program and the Anthrorack
Facility, and contains correspondence, reports, and experiment data.
E) The Miscellaneous subseries contains photographs of the Space Shuttle mission flights, NASA brochures and miscellaneous
Space Station materials.
SERIES 8: TEACHING MATERIALS
The majority of the TEACHING MATERIALS Series, arranged partially alphabetically and partially chronologically, concentrates
on the course enititled Organ Physiology (SOM 206) and is arranged in six subseries: A) Correspondence, B) Course Evaluations,
C) Exams, D) Handouts, E) Syllabi, and F) Miscellaneous Other Courses.
A) The Correspondence subseries contains letters to and from Dr. West to various faculty and course committee members concerning
the Organ Physiology course.
B) The Course Evaluations subseries, arranged chronologically, is arranged in three segments: Faculty Lecture Evaluations,
Student Course Evaluations, and Student Faculty Evaluations. The evaluations consist of responses and suggestions to the
corresponding course material and participating lecturers.
C) The Exams subseries contains exam questions from 1971-1996, answer sheets, and miscellaneous related materials. Materials
contained in Boxes 113-115 have been restricted.
D) The materials in the Handouts subseries are relevant Organ Physiology laboratory papers and questions concerning curriculum
E) The Syllabi subseries, arranged chronologically, consists of course outlines and lecture notes from 1972-1997. In some
cases, there exists a separate course outlines for the Cardiovascular, Heart and Circulation, Gastrointestinal, and Respiration
F) The Miscellaneous Other Courses subseries, arranged alphabetically, contains similar materials from related courses as
Human Diseases and Introduction to Clinical Medicine. The folders for the course entitled Pulmonary Pathophysiology includes
materials, slides and diagrams for lectures 1-10.
SERIES 9: TRAVEL MATERIALS
The TRAVEL MATERIALS series, arranged chronologically, documents Dr. West's travel to conferences, seminars, and symposiums
from 1969-1998. Included in this series is correspondence, itinerary brochures, and annotations.
SERIES 10: UCSD SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
The UCSD SCHOOL OF MEDICINE series contains material related to West's administrative involvement with the School of Medicine
and the Division of Physiology. West's work on several University committees is also documented. The series consists of
incoming and outgoing university correspondence, reports, and miscellaneous notes.
SERIES 11: MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS
The MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS subseries contains administrative appointments for Dr. West from 1991-1996.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
West, John B. -- (John Burnard) -- Archives
University of California, San Diego -- Faculty -- Archives
Altitude, Influence of
Oxygen in the body
Lungs -- Physiology
Mountaineering expeditions -- Himalaya Mountains
Physiology -- History
Physiologists -- Biography
Pike's Peak (Colo.) -- Pictorial works
Photographic prints -- 20th century.
West, John B. -- (John Burnard)
Altitude, Influence of -- Everest, Mount (China and Nepal)
Mountaineering expeditions -- Everest, Mount (China and Nepal)
Mountaineering -- Personal narratives
West, John B. -- (John Burnard). -- Expedition Diary