Ellis D. Avner, MD, was appointed Founding Director of the Children's Research Institute and Associate Dean for Pediatric Research in 2004. He currently serves as Professor of Pediatrics and Physiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Avner received his AB in Religion from Princeton University and his MD from the University of Pennsylvania School of medicine. He served his internship and residency at the Children's Hospital in Boston, where he also completed his fellowship in pediatric nephrology.
Dr. Avner's faculty career began in 1980 at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He moved to Seattle in 1988 where he was a Professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Division Chief of Pediatric Nephrology at Children's Hospital and Medical Center. Dr. Avner was appointed Chairman of Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University and Chief Medical Officer at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in 1995; posts he held until his move to the Children's Research Institute and the Medical College of Wisconsin. He has held leadership positions in numerous professional organizations including the Society of Pediatric Research, the International Pediatric Nephrology Association, the American Society of Transplantation, and the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation. He serves as past president of the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology and the Council of American Kidney Societies, and served as an elected member of the Standing and Executive Committees of the International Pediatric Association. Dr. Avner has received numerous national and international awards. In 2008, Dr. Avner was awarded the Henry L. Barnett Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics in recognition of his outstanding teaching and research contributions to the field of Pediatric Nephrology.
Dr. Avner has served on the editorial boards of >15 key journals in the areas of nephrology and developmental biology. He is the senior editor of the standard textbook, Pediatric Nephrology, 6th edition, 2009.(7th edition pending;2015) He is the author of more than 265 original articles and chapters in the area of renal developmental biology, polycystic kidney disease and pediatric nephrology. Dr. Avner has served multiple roles in NIH-based peer review, including a regular appointment to the General Medicine B Study Section, which he chaired from 1993-1995. He also has chaired nine other ad-hoc NIH review groups which have focused on genetic kidney disease. Dr. Avner currently directs one of only two federally- funded Research Centers of Excellence in Pediatric Nephrology in the United States, and the only Center that focuses on PKD in children. The National Institutes of Health, private foundations and industry have continuously funded Dr. Avner's research program for the last 30 years. He has generated over $40 million of extramural research funding during that period.
Dr. Avner’s research focuses on key mediators in the pathophysiology of polycystic kidney disease, and most recently his lab has identified unique signaling pathways triggered by mutations in the genes which, when mutated, cause autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), and autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD). He participated in the multi-institutional effort which led to the identification of the ARPKD gene (pkhd1) in 2004. Since that time, his laboratory has published seminal work describing key intermediates immediately downstream from primary gene mutations which cause cyst formation and progressive enlargement with kidney failure in ADPKD and ARPKD. Current pre-clinical work has genetically and pharmacologically targeted these intermediates in vitro and in vivo. This work is now being translated into new, disease-specific therapies for human polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD and ARPKD) in children.
Dr. Avner’s research is complemented by a unique Multidisciplinary Childhood Polycystic Kidney Disease Clinic, the only of its kind in the nation, which he developed in 2005 at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Through his research and clinical programs, Dr. Avner has trained over 28 pre- and post-doctoral fellows, many of whom now lead Children’s Nephrology Programs in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Pediatric Nephrology, Pediatrics