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Translational Neuroscience Program                   
Photo of David Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Educational and Clinical Background
Dr. Volk's research training includes completion of the Medical Scientist Training Program for MD/PhD study at the University of Pittsburgh (1995-2004). As a graduate student in the Department of Neuroscience, he studied abnormalities in prefrontal cortical inhibitory circuitry that contribute to cognitive impairments in schizophrenia and earned a PhD in 2002. After completing medical school in 2004, he pursued psychiatry residency training at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (2004–2008), where he also served as Chief Resident of the Research Track. Dr. Volk joined the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor in 2008. In 2009, Dr. Volk received a K08 Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award to study interactions between the prefrontal GABA system and the endogenous cannabinoid system in schizophrenia using a combination of postmortem human brain tissue studies and cell-type specific genetic manipulations in rodents. Dr. Volk also sees acutely ill patients one day per week in the Psychiatric Emergency Intake Service at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.

Research Program
Dr. Volk's research program is focused on 1) investigating cortical inhibitory (GABA) circuitry abnormalities that underlie cognitive impairments in schizophrenia using postmortem human brain tissue; 2) utilizing animal models to test hypotheses involving pathogenetic mechanisms that lead to neural circuitry disturbances in the disorder, and 3) ultimately, identifying novel treatment targets for cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. Recent areas of interest have focused on the role of the endogenous cannabinoid and opioid systems in regulating prefrontal GABA function in schizophrenia and on the potential pathogenetic role of cell-type specific ontogenetic transcription factors in GABA neuron dysfunction in schizophrenia.

Link: Endogenous Cannabinoid System in Schizophrenia

Link: Cortical Opioid Markers in Schizophrenia and Across Development

Link: Transcriptional Regulators of Cortical Interneuron Subpopulations in Schizophrenia

University of Pittsburgh seal Contact Information:
    University of Pittsburgh
    3811 O'Hara Street, W1643 BST
    Pittsburgh, PA 15213
    Phone: (412) 648-9617
    Fax: (412) 624-9910
    E-mail:email address

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David A. Lewis, M.D. | Department of Psychiatry | University of Pittsburgh
3811 O'Hara Street, Biomedical Science Tower W1654
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213-2593
Phone: (412) 624-3894 - Fax: (412) 624-9910