James C West Jr.


Department of Primary Appointment:
School of Medicine
Vice Chair for Research
Location: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD
Research Interests:
Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders
Disaster and Preventive Psychiatry
Office Phone


M.D. 2001 University of Michigan Medical School
B.S.E. 1989 United States Naval Academy


Dr. James C. (Curt) West earned his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the United States Naval Academy in 1989. He served eight years as a submarine warfare officer in the Navy, serving as a division officer aboard USS NORFOLK (SSN 714) and as a Company Officer at the Naval Academy. Dr. West earned his M.D. from the University of Michigan Medical School in 2001 and completed residency training in psychiatry at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia in 2005.

His first medical assignment was to First Marine Division in Camp Pendleton, California and deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in 2006 as Operational Stress Control and Readiness (OSCAR) psychiatrist for Regimental Combat Team 5. In 2008 he reported to National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland as department chief of behavioral health and served as part of the leadership team integrating with Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan as Combat and Operational Stress Control Officer for Combat Logistics Regiment 15 (Fwd) in 2010. He subsequently served as Assistant Deputy Commander and acting Deputy Commander of Behavioral Health at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center until 2013. In his clinical work he treated returning casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of an integrated psychological health and TBI consultation team.

Dr. West is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and a Scientist at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. At USU, he has served as psychiatry clerkship director, and course director for combat and operational stress control for the field exercise, Operation Bushmaster. He has also conducted clinical research in the treatment of PTSD and trauma-related nightmares, completing clinical trials of medication and psychotherapy for these problems. He served as member of the uniformed faculty until his retirement in 2019, and continues as a civilian.

Dr. West is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. His professional interests include research into medical simulation and assessment methods in psychiatry education, disaster and preventive psychiatry, firearm safety communication for suicide prevention, and translating understanding of biological underpinnings of PTSD and trauma-related disorders into more effective treatments.

Career Highlights: Positions, Projects, Deployements, Awards and Additional Publications

Deputy Chair Jun 2019 - Jul 2023

Assistant Chair for Education Mar 2016 - Feb 2019

Psychiatry Clerkship Director, USUHS, Jan 2013 - Mar 2016

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Assistant Director/Acting Director of Behavioral Health, Dec 2009 - Jan 2013

Pilot Trial of Nightmare Deconstruction and Reprocessing for Trauma Related Nightmares

Enhancing Fear Extinction via Angiotensin Type 1 Receptor Inhibition: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Losartan for PTSD

Riluzole for PTSD: Trial of a Glutamatergic Modulator as Augmentation Pharmacotherapy

Combat and Operational Stress Control Officer, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Feb 2010 - Sep 2010

Operational Stress Control and Readiness Psychiatrist, Regimental Combat Team 5, Camp Fallujah, Iraq, Aug 2006 - Jan 2007

Let's Talk About Your Guns Podcast (https://www.cstsonline.org/suicide-prevention-program/podcasts/lets-talk-about-your-guns)

Representative Bibliography

Stein M.B., Jain S., Simon N.M., West J.C., Marvar P.J., Bui E., He F., Benedek D.M., Cassano P., Griffith J.L., Howlett J., Malgaroli M., Melaragno A., Seligowski A.V., Shu I.-W., Song S., Szuhany K., Taylor C.T., Ressler K.J. & on behalf of the LOSe-PTSD Investigators. (2021). Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial of the Angiotensin Receptor Antagonist Losartan for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 90(7):473-481. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2021.05.012.

West, J. C., Spangler, P. S., Dempsey, C.L., Straud, C. L., Graham, K., Thiel, F., & Benedek, D.M. (2021) Riluzole Augmentation in PTSD: Differential Treatment Effect in a High Hyperarousal Subtype. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, 41(4):503-506. doi: 10.1097/JCP.0000000000001406

Spangler, P.T., West, J.C., Cole, J., Dempsey, C.L., Possemato, K., Bartolanzo, D., Zarate, C., Vythilingam, M., & Benedek, D.M. (2020) Randomized Controlled Trial of Riluzole Augmentation for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Efficacy of a Glutamatergic Modulator for Antidepressant-Resistant Symptoms. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 81(6):20m13233

West, J. C., Morganstein, J. C., Meyer, E.G., & Wynn, G. H. (2018). Real Stress Reactions in Simulation: Vignettes from Extended Mass-Casualty Simulations. Academic Psychiatry, 42(1), 164-167. doi: 10.1007/s40596-017-0774-5

West, J. C., Woodson, J. T., & Benedek, D. M. (2015). Large-Scale Simulation for Teaching Combat and Operational Stress Control: Operation Bushmaster. Academic Psychiatry, 39(4), 398-401. doi: 10.1007/s40596-015-0310-4

West, J.C., Wynn, G.H., & Benedek, D.M. (2022). Pharmacotherapy for PTSD. In J.G. Beck & D.M. Sloan (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Traumatic Stress Disorders, Second Edition. New York: Oxford University Press.

West, J., Warner, C. (2019). Combat and Operational Stress Control. In Schoomaker, E. & Smith D. (Eds.) Fundamentals of Military Medical Practice. San Antonio: Borden Institute

West, J.C., Morganstein, J., & Ursano, R.J. (2017). Work-Associated Trauma. In Brower, K., Riba, M., (Eds.) Physican Mental Health and Well-Being: Research and Practice. New York: Springer.

West, J., Morganstein, J. (2016). Psychological Effects on Military Personnel Assigned to Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response Missions. In Christadoulou G. (ed.) Crises and Disasters: Psychosocial Consequences. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

West, J., Benedek, D., Hamaoka, D., & Ursano, R. (2015). Managing Psychological Consequences in Disaster Populations. In Tasman, A. (Ed.), Psychiatry (pp. 2521-2532). West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell.