Dr. William L. Oppenheim (FEL ’79), an internationally renowned expert in orthopaedics, has dedicated his work to improving the care and treatment of cerebral palsy and musculoskeletal disorders. He joined the UCLA Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in 1979 and is now Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Pediatric Orthopaedics and Director Emeritus of the Center for Cerebral Palsy at the UCLA/Orthopaedic Institute for Children in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. After these many years, his commitment to advancing the field continues. Dr. Oppenheim and his wife Patricia Schnegg made a lead gift to establish the William and Patricia Oppenheim Presidential Chair in Pediatric Orthopaedics in the UCLA Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Dr. Rachel Mednick Thompson has been named as the inaugural chair holder.
“As a member of the UCLA faculty for many years, I understand how important endowed chairs are to empowering gifted physicians and scientists who have the passion and ability to advance their field,” said Dr. Oppenheim. “Patty and I are proud to be a part of establishing this chair that will support Rachel in her efforts to continue to improve treatments and provide the best possible care for pediatric orthopaedic patients and help them achieve their best possible quality of life.”
Dr. Oppenheim founded the pediatric orthopaedic program in 1979. As he followed his young patients into adulthood, he saw the crucial need for improved transitional care, and in 1995 he established the Center for Cerebral Palsy at UCLA, a visionary model for interdisciplinary care across the lifespan that is one of the first of its kind in the country. Dr. Oppenheim and his wife, who is a retired Los Angeles Superior Court judge, have been UCLA donors since 1985 and have previously supported the Center for Cerebral Palsy.
Dr. Thompson joined UCLA in 2017, and she recently was promoted to director of the Center for Cerebral Palsy, taking the reins from Dr. Oppenheim. Dr. Thompson focuses her research on the muscular pathology of cerebral palsy, and her primary area of practice is pediatric orthopaedics, with a specialization in neuromuscular orthopaedics/cerebral palsy.
“I am so grateful for Bill’s mentorship, friendship and support,” Dr. Thompson said. “He has always been in my corner as a colleague, lending advice and guidance, and I am honored to continue his legacy in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and at the Center for Cerebral Palsy at UCLA/OIC and as the inaugural chair holder.”
In addition to the Oppenheims’ gift, more than $1 million was raised for the chair, with contributions from Shirley and Ralph Shapiro and their children Peter and Alison; a group of Dr. Oppenheim’s colleagues, friends and patients; and the University of California Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs Program.
“It is especially significant when our faculty expands their service to the university as philanthropists,” said Dr. Kelsey C. Martin, dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Gerald S. Levey, M.D., Endowed Chair. “It is a privilege to have worked with Bill, and we are grateful to him and Patty for this chair, which honors Bill’s remarkable career and creates a meaningful legacy.”
For more information, contact Gretchen McGarry at: 310-794-4746