Collective philanthropy can do great things, as evidenced by the UCLA friends, colleagues and fellow philanthropists who raised more than $1 million to honor the legacy of the late Dr. Jeffrey J. Eckardt (RES ’79), who died November 13, 2020. Thanks to lead gifts by Maxine and Eugene Rosenfeld, the Leonetti/O’Connell Family Foundation, and Jean-Marc Chapus and Christine and Steven F. Udvar-Hazy, along with contributions from 38 others, the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA established the Jeffrey J. Eckardt, M.D., Term Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery. Dr. Nicholas M. Bernthal (FEL ’12) has been named as the inaugural chair holder.
A world-renowned orthopaedic oncologist who retired to emeritus status in 2019, Dr. Eckardt served as Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, and he held the Helga and Walter Oppenheimer Endowed Chair in Orthopaedic Oncology. Dr. Eckardt pioneered limb-salvage surgery that replaced amputation for patients with bone cancers, designed and improved oncologic implants and trained hundreds of surgeons how to treat bone tumors and care for patients. Under his leadership, the UCLA Department of Orthopaedic Surgery pushed scientific frontiers by opening dozens of clinical trials for less-toxic agents in sarcoma care, added studies to understand and improve function after surgeries and developed an “avatar” program of precision medicine to try to understand each patient’s individual tumor. “Endowed chairs are vital to UCLA’s mission to advance transformative research and education by enabling outstanding faculty members the intellectual flexibility required to pursue new paths and uncover breakthroughs,” said Dr. Kelsey C. Martin, dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Gerald S. Levey, M.D., Endowed Chair. “I am confident that Dr. Bernthal will continue Dr. Eckardt’s legacy through his dedication to compassionate care, leading-edge research and community outreach.”
Prior to his death, Dr. Eckardt expressed his awe of the support he received as fundraising for this chair began, and he frequently expressed how honored and moved he was. Dr. Bernthal, who shared a close relationship with Dr. Eckardt, said, “Dr. Eckardt was an unparalleled physician who taught many of us how to be doctors and to challenge ourselves to be better. He will be most remembered for his unwavering humanity, and I am immensely proud to hold the inaugural chair named in his memory.”
Dr. Bernthal joined the UCLA Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in 2013, and he serves as an associate professor, chief of the Division of Musculoskeletal Oncology, director of the UCLA Orthopaedic Oncology Fellowship and director and founder of the Global Orthopaedic Initiative at UCLA. Funding from the chair will support Dr. Bernthal’s research to enhance quality of life for patients with sarcoma, decrease orthopaedicimplant infections and advance implant engineering. His lab also is pioneering new implant coatings to enhance the patient’s ability to fight off bacteria.
For more information, contact Gretchen McGarry at: 310-794-4746