The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA has established the William and Patricia Oppenheim Presidential Chair in Pediatric Orthopaedics. The chair honors Dr. William Oppenheim, an internationally renowned expert in orthopaedics, and his wife, Patricia Schnegg.
In addition to the Oppenheims, numerous donors, including Shirley and Ralph Shapiro and their children, Peter and Alison, as well as colleagues, friends and former patients of William Oppenheim, contributed to fund the chair; their donations were bolstered by the University of California Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs program, for a total contribution of more than $1 million.
The Shapiros are longtime supporters of UCLA and the Center for Cerebral Palsy at UCLA/Orthopaedic Institute for Children.
Dr. Rachel Mednick Thompson has been named as the inaugural holder of the chair, which is part of the UCLA department of orthopaedic surgery.
“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,” William Oppenheim said. “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 have quality of life.”
In 1979, William Oppenheim joined the UCLA department of orthopaedic surgery and founded the pediatric orthopaedic program. He is now distinguished professor emeritus and director emeritus of the Center for Cerebral Palsy at UCLA/Orthopaedic Institute for Children.
Oppenheim dedicated his work to improving the care and treatment of people with cerebral palsy and other musculoskeletal disorders. As he followed his patients from childhood into adulthood, he saw the need for improved transitional care, and in 1995, he led the establishment of the Center for Cerebral Palsy at UCLA. The center was a visionary model for interdisciplinary care across the lifespan and it remains one of the nation’s only centers of its kind.
Oppenheim also is a past president of the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine.
Thompson joined UCLA in 2017 and was promoted to director of the Center for Cerebral Palsy in the same year, taking the reins from Oppenheim. She is an assistant professor-in-residence and associate director of the department of orthopaedic surgery residency program. Thompson’s research focuses on the muscular pathology of cerebral palsy, and her primary area of practice is pediatric orthopaedics, with a specialization in neuromuscular orthopaedics and cerebral palsy.
“Establishing the William and Patricia Oppenheim Presidential Chair in Pediatric Orthopaedics is an invaluable way to honor Dr. Oppenheim’s achievements,” said Dr. Francis Hornicek, UCLA’s Helga and Walter Oppenheimer Endowed Chair in Orthopaedic Oncology and chair of the department of orthopaedic surgery. “I offer my sincere thanks to Bill and Patty, the Shapiro family and the other donors who gave so generously to support this endowment, which will enable Dr. Thompson to continue advancing basic and translational research, improve treatments, and train the next generation of leaders in pediatric orthopaedics.”
Oppenheim and Schnegg, a retired Los Angeles Superior Court judge, have been UCLA donors since 1985 and have previously supported the Center for Cerebral Palsy.
“It is especially significant when our faculty expand their service to the university as philanthropists,” said Dr. Kelsey Martin, dean of the Geffen School of Medicine. “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.”
The Center for Cerebral Palsy provides excellence in clinical treatment, research and education. The center, which includes two clinics, a basic science laboratory dedicated to cerebral palsy research and the Kameron Gait and Motion Analysis Laboratory, is the only interdisciplinary clinic in Los Angeles that evaluates and treats people with cerebral palsy throughout their lifespan.
The pediatric orthopaedic program in the UCLA/Orthopaedic Institute for Children offers world-class care for children and young adults with congenital, developmental, neuromuscular and post-traumatic orthopaedic conditions. Its physicians specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of children in state-of-the-art care centers in Santa Monica, Westwood and downtown Los Angeles.
The UCLA department of orthopaedic surgery combines the best in orthopaedic medicine and surgical care. The department works with oncology and trauma patients; its physicians perform joint replacements and hand surgeries; address sports medicine injuries and spine, foot, and ankle conditions; and treat cerebral palsy and neuromuscular disorders.