Skip to Content
David Volk

David Volk

Associate Member

Associate Professor

SRB 330E

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
McGovern Medical School
Institute of Molecular Medicine

My focus is to develop cancer targeting agents using X-aptamer reagents that combine drugs or protein side-chains, along with backbone modifications on DNA, to provide directed delivery of anti-cancer medications to tumors. By conjugating them with nanoparticles, they offer the ability to provide for the slow release of anti-cancer drugs or siRNA at the tumor, thereby further reducing unwanted collateral damage to remote tissue. We have developed several X-aptamers targeting E-selectin, CD44, and annexin A2, proteins that are over-expressed on the surface of tumors or tumor associated vasculature. Recently (Mai et al. 2014), we showed that as part of a multistage vector ESTA1, our aptamer targeting E-selectin, directed anti-cancer siRNA to the bone marrow leading to significantly increased survival rates. More recently (Mangala et al, 2016) we have shown that aptamer directed delivery of siRNA improves vascular maturation thereby enhancing the anti-tumor effects of chemotherapy. A number of exciting X-aptamers are in development for use in the fight against cancer and other diseases.

Another interest is developing software for the analysis of next-generation sequencing (NGS) data. We created Aptaligner for the automated analysis of X-aptamer NGS data files (Lu et al. 2014), and we are currently creating a new program to analyze antigenic variation data in Lyme disease.

Research Projects 

  • Breast, Ovarian and Pancreatic Tumor Imaging and Directed Drug Delivery
  • Developing X-aptamers Targeting Cancer and other Diseases
  • Developing Novel Software to Analyze Antigenic Variation in Lyme Disease


IMM Faculty

Education & Training

Ph.D. - North Dakota State University - 1995