David H. Ellison

David H. Ellison

Professor of Medicine and Chemical Physiology & Biochemistry
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Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute
Oregon Health and Science University, SN4N
3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road
Portland, OR 97239, USA

T: +1 503 494 4465 
F: +1 503 494 9277

David H. Ellison, M.D. is Professor of Medicine and Physiology & Pharmacology, Director of the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute, and Associate Vice President for Clinical and Translational Research at Oregon Health & Science University. Prior to assuming these roles, he was Head of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension for 13 years, and he remains active clinically. He is also a Staff Physician at the Portland VA Medical Center. Dr. Ellison’s research focus during the last 25 years has been the mechanisms of salt and potassium transport along the renal distal tubule, with particular interest in the thiazide-sensitive NaCl cotransporter (NCC). His early studies identified this transporter as dominant in the early distal tubule, and his work contributed to the recognition that NCC mutations cause Gitelman syndrome.  More recently, he has helped unravel mechanisms underlying the monogenic disease Familial Hyperkalemic Hypertension. This has led him to identify that the distal nephron acts as a potassium switch, through the actions of WNK/SPAK signaling. His work has been instrumental in showing that plasma potassium is a dominant regulator of NCC function, and postulating that this effect results from activation of basolateral potassium channels, leading to cellular polarization and WNK.SPAK activation. His group has translated these findings to humans, and postulated that these mechanisms may explain the blood pressure lowering effects of dietary potassium loading.


  • Potassium homeostasis and management of dyskalemia in kidney diseases: conclusions from a Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) Controversies Conference
    Clase CM, Carrero JJ, Ellison DH, Grams ME, Hemmelgarn BR, Jardine MJ, Kovesdy CP, Kline GA, Lindner G, Obrador GT, Palmer BF, Cheung M, Wheeler DC, Winkelmayer WC, Pecoits-Filho R; Conference Participants. Kidney Int. 2020 Jan;97(1):42-61. doi: 10.1016/j.kint.2019.09.018. Epub 2019 Oct 10. [Article]

  • WNK bodies cluster WNK4 and SPAK/OSR1 to promote NCC activation in hypokalemia
    Thomson MN, Cuevas CA, Bewarder TM, Dittmayer C, Miller LN, Si J, Cornelius RJ, Su XT, Yang CL, McCormick JA, Hadchouel J, Ellison DH, Bachmann S, Mutig K. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2020 Jan 1;318(1):F216-F228. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00232.2019. Epub 2019 Nov 18. PMID: 31736353 [Article]

  • Salt-sensitive transcriptome of isolated kidney distal tubule cells
    Swanson EA, Nelson JW, Jeng S, Erspamer KJ, Yang CL, McWeeney S, Ellison DH. Physiol Genomics. 2019 Apr 1;51(4):125-135. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00119.2018. Epub 2019 Mar 15. PMID: 30875275 [Article]

  • Patients with hypokalemia develop WNK bodies in the distal convoluted tubule of the kidney
    Thomson MN, Schneider W, Mutig K, Ellison DH, Kettritz R, Bachmann S. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2019 Feb 1;316(2):F292-F300. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00464.2018. Epub 2018 Nov 28. PMID: 30484345  [Article]

  • Kir4.1/Kir5.1 in the DCT plays a role in the regulation of renal K±  excretion
    Su XT, Ellison DH, Wang WH. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2019 Mar 1;316(3):F582-F586. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00412.2018. Epub 2019 Jan 9. PMID: 30623727 [Article]

  • Optical Clearing in the Kidney Reveals Potassium-Mediated Tubule Remodeling.
    Saritas T, Puelles VG, Su XT, McCormick JA, Welling PA, Ellison DH. Cell Rep. 2018 Dec 4;25(10):2668-2675.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.11.021. PMID: 30517856  [Article]

  • Potassium Sensing by Renal Distal Tubules Requires Kir4.1
    Cuevas CA, Su XT, Wang MX, Terker AS, Lin DH, McCormick JA, Yang CL, Ellison DH, Wang WH. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2017 Jun;28(6):1814-1825. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2016090935. Epub 2017 Jan 4. PMID: 28052988  [Article]

  • Unique chloride-sensing properties of WNK4 permit the distal nephron to modulate potassium homeostasis
    Terker AS, Zhang C, Erspamer KJ, Gamba G, Yang CL, Ellison DH. Kidney Int. 2016 Jan;89(1):127-34. doi: 10.1038/ki.2015.289. Epub 2016 Jan 4. PMID: 26422504 [Article]

  • Potassium modulates electrolyte balance and blood pressure through effects on distal cell voltage and chloride
    Terker AS, Zhang C, McCormick JA, Lazelle RA, Zhang C, Meermeier NP, Siler DA, Park HJ, Fu Y, Cohen DM, Weinstein AM, Wang WH, Yang CL, Ellison DH. Cell Metab. 2015 Jan 6;21(1):39-50. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2014.12.006. PMID: 25565204 [Article]

  • Hyperkalemic hypertension-associated cullin 3 promotes WNK signaling by degrading KLHL3
    McCormick JA, Yang CL, Zhang C, Davidge B, Blankenstein KI, Terker AS, Yarbrough B, Meermeier NP, Park HJ, McCully B, West M, Borschewski A, Himmerkus N, Bleich M, Bachmann S, Mutig K, Argaiz ER, Gamba G, Singer JD, Ellison DH. J Clin Invest. 2014 Nov;124(11):4723-36. doi: 10.1172/JCI76126. Epub 2014 Sep 24. PMID: 25250572 [Article]