Karen P. West

Dean, School of Dental Medicine
Doctor of Dental Medicine
Expertise: Oral Health, Oral Cancer Prevention, Community Health Outreach, National and International Health Care Accreditation, Curriculum Design


Karen P. West heads the UNLV School of Dental Medicine. Under her leadership, the School of Dental Medicine’s seven clinics provide more than $1.3 million of free dental care and oral cancer screenings to low-income and disadvantaged Nevadans annually, serving homeless teens, children with special needs, women who are victims of domestic abuse, and veterans. The clinics also help educate and prepare more than 300 dental health professionals.

West worked as a practitioner in Kentucky before joining the academic ranks at the Medical College of Georgia, where she taught in the community dentistry department and was the director of the Children and Youth Dental Clinic. She later joined the faculty at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry, serving first as a clinical team leader and  associate dean for academic affairs.

Her scholarly and policy work focuses on population-based clinical studies, oral health promotion, oral cancer prevention, and gender-based research. A former president of the Society for Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine, West has been involved in both educational research and women's health research. She is also a consultant for the Commission on Dental Accreditation.


  • D.M.D., University of Louisville School of Dentistry
  • M.P.H., Health Administration, University of South Carolina
  • B.A., Biology, University of Louisville

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Karen P. West In The News

Las Vegas Review Journal
February 26, 2012
It falls to many college deans to go before off-campus groups and seek support, especially when budgets are tight. But Dr. Karen West may be the only one who has gone before the Turnaround Management Association, which focuses on reviving struggling businesses.