Ralph and Shirley Shapiro

Friends - U Magazine Winter 2024
Ralph and Shirley Shapiro with their son, Peter Shapiro.
Ralph and Shirley Shapiro with their son, Peter Shapiro. (Photo courtesy of the Shapiro Family)

Longtime UCLA philanthropic partners Shirley and Ralph Shapiro have donated $100,000 to establish the Kreiger Retinal Support of Medically Underserved Populations Fund. The contribution honors Dr. Allan Kreiger (MD ’63), founding retina division chief in the Department of Ophthalmology at UCLA Stein Eye Institute, and will provide resources for the screening and treatment of retinal diseases in medically under-resourced populations. 

When Dr. Steven Schwartz (RES ’92), chief of the retina division and The Ahmanson Chair in Ophthalmology, first discussed the project with Ralph Shapiro, the exact purpose had yet to be determined, beyond honoring Dr. Kreiger. However, Shapiro did not wait for further details before lending his support. 

“Years ago, I discovered that no one knows more about what needs to get done than the person you’re trying to help,” said Ralph Shapiro. 

Stein Eye will continue fundraising efforts, with plans to raise $1 million, then repurpose the fund to establish an endowed term chair named in Dr. Kreiger’s honor. The chair will benefit a faculty member whose research and patient care advances retinal health, with a continued focus on underserved populations. 

Dr. Kreiger taught and mentored the majority of retina specialists trained at Stein Eye. He received his medical degree from UCLA and completed his residency at the Wadsworth Veterans Administration Hospital in Los Angeles. Dr. Kreiger started his career at Stein Eye in 1967 as a clinical instructor and became a professor in 1977. Over the past five decades, he made many significant contributions to the field, notably in the areas of ocular manifestation of AIDS and acute retinal necrosis syndrome. He received the prestigious S. Rodman Irvine Prize from the UCLA Department of Ophthalmology and the Sherman M. Mellinkoff Faculty Award from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. 

Shirley Shapiro earned a bachelor’s degree in education from UCLA in 1959; Ralph Shapiro earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UCLA in 1953 and a juris doctorate from the UCLA School of Law in 1958. He is chairman of Avondale Investment Partners and an investor and commercial real estate holder. 

The Shapiros have generously given to UCLA for six decades and are among the school’s most steadfast partners. The family has made more gifts to UCLA than any other individual donors, having given more than 1,600 across 100 departments. They have helped establish more than 20 endowed chairs and have contributed to medical research, environmental law, disability studies, education, the arts, children’s welfare programs and many other areas. 

Ralph Shapiro notes the importance of collective giving and bringing awareness to efforts such as the Kreiger Retinal Support fund. “None of us alone have the resources to fulfill all the unmet needs,” he said. “When you have an opportunity, it’s wonderful to be able to get a project started and give people a chance to join together to fulfill the most pressing needs that come to our attention.”  

For more information, contact Susan DeRemer at: 310-825-3381