David Volk, MD, PhD

  • Associate Professor, Psychiatry

    Education & Training

  • Graduate School – University of Pittsburgh – MS – Neuroscience
  • Graduate School – University of Pittsburgh – PhD – Neuroscience
  • Medical School – University of Pittsburgh – MD
  • Residency – Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic - Psychiatry
Research Grants

NIH Grants:  R01, R03, T32, U01

Research Summary

Dr. Volk’s research utilizes a translational approach for studying the pathogenesis and pathology of schizophrenia. He develops and tests hypotheses involving neural circuitry abnormalities in postmortem human brain tissue, and tests their plausibility through cell-type-specific genetic manipulations in animal models. These experiments are designed to identify novel treatment targets for schizophrenia. Integrating his high-quality scientific training in neuroscience and his clinical training as a psychiatrist, Dr. Volk has developed a national reputation in this area. In 2009, he received a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) K08 mentored clinical scientist development award titled Schizophrenia and Endocannabinoid Effects on Inhibitory Circuitry.  This work led to the funding of his current NIMH R01 Disrupted Ontogeny of Cortical GABA Neurons in Schizophrenia, which examines disturbances in prefrontal cortical inhibitory neurons in schizophrenia.  Dr. Volk also serves as a co-investigator of the National Institute of Health (NIH) Brain and Tissue Repository Contract and has also made important contributions as a co-investigator to the new NIMH Conte Translational Mental Health Research Center. His accomplishments have been recognized nationally, including his receipt of the NIMH Outstanding Resident Award in 2006, the American Psychiatric Association’s Research Colloquium for Junior Investigators Award in 2007, travel awards from both the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (2010) and the International Congress on Schizophrenia (2011), and the Hamilton Family Award for Basic Neuroscience Research in Psychiatry in 2012. He has also served as an ad hoc reviewer for NIH Study Sections and is a member of the editorial board of Neurobiology of Disease. His research has been published in top-tier journals including JAMA Psychiatry (Archives of General Psychiatry), the American Journal of Psychiatry, and Biological Psychiatry.  

Representative Publications
  1. Volk DW, Moroco AE, Roman KM, Edelson JR, Lewis DA. The Role of the Nuclear Factor-κB Transcriptional Complex in Cortical Immune Activation in Schizophrenia. Biol Psychiatry. 2018 Jun 28. pii: S0006-3223(18)31629-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2018.06.015. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 30082065.
  2. Gomes FV, Edelson JR, Volk DW, Grace AA. Altered brain cannabinoid 1 receptor mRNA expression across postnatal development in the MAM model of schizophrenia. Schizophr Res. 2018 Nov;201:254-260. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2018.04.030. Epub 2018 Apr 26. PubMed PMID: 29705007; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6203675. 
  3. Volk DW. Role of microglia disturbances and immune-related marker abnormalities in cortical circuitry dysfunction in schizophrenia. Neurobiol Dis. 2017 Mar;99:58-65. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2016.12.019. Epub 2016 Dec 19. Review. PubMed PMID: 28007586; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5303150.
  4. Volk DW, Gonzalez-Burgos G, Lewis DA. l-Proline, GABA Synthesis and Gamma Oscillations in Schizophrenia. Trends Neurosci. 2016 Dec;39(12):797-798. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2016.10.009. Epub 2016 Nov 8. PubMed PMID: 27832914; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5157203. 
  5. Datta D, Arion D, Roman KM, Volk DW, Lewis DA. Altered Expression of ARP2/3 Complex Signaling Pathway Genes in Prefrontal Layer 3 Pyramidal Cells in Schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatry. 2017 Feb 1;174(2):163-171. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.16020204. Epub 2016 Aug 13. PubMed PMID: 27523502; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5288270. 
  6. Volk DW, Edelson JR, Lewis DA. Altered expression of developmental regulators of parvalbumin and somatostatin neurons in the prefrontal cortex in schizophrenia. Schizophr Res. 2016 Nov;177(1-3):3-9. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2016.03.001. Epub 2016 Mar 10. PubMed PMID: 26972474; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5018248. 
  7. Kimoto S, Glausier JR, Fish KN, Volk DW, Bazmi HH, Arion D, Datta D, Lewis DA. Reciprocal Alterations in Regulator of G Protein Signaling 4 and microRNA16 in Schizophrenia. Schizophr Bull. 2016 Mar;42(2):396-405. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbv139. Epub 2015 Sep 30. PubMed PMID: 26424323; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4753606.