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Longtime UC San Diego
Benefactor Donald Shiley Dies

Aug 2, 2010

By Jade Griffin

Donald Shiley
Darlene and Donald Shiley

Donald Shiley, medical inventor and longtime UC San Diego benefactor, died July 31, 2010.  He was 90 years old. 

Shiley co-invented the Bjork-Shiley heart valve, which dramatically advanced heart surgery and is estimated to have saved hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide. Shiley and wife of 32 years, Darlene, have given nearly $15 million to UC San Diego, with a focus on healthcare and neuroscience research.

“The university will always remember and appreciate Donald Shiley for his vision and generosity,” said Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. “He and his wife Darlene created a lasting legacy through their philanthropic giving, and we are appreciative of their contributions that have advanced research and discovery at UC San Diego.”

Shiley’s philanthropy played a key role in the expansion and advancement of UC San Diego’s ophthalmology department and the university’s cutting-edge Alzheimer’s disease research.  In gratitude for the couple’s generosity, which has spanned more than two decades, the Donald P. and Darlene V. Shiley Eye Center and the Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, both part of the UC San Diego Health System, were named in the couple’s honor. 

"Donald Shiley was a leader at UCSD Health Sciences. Donald and Darlene Shiley's commitment to research and patient care in eye disease and Alzheimer's have been critical to UC San Diego building our world class programs in these fields," said David Brenner, MD, vice chancellor for Health Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine.

Shiley Eye Center Director Stuart I. Brown, MD, added: “Donald Shiley was a remarkable man. From its inception, he and his wife Darlene were responsible for the Shiley Eye Center’s development. Over the years, with their continued support, the Center has grown to meet the increasing challenges of patient care and research. Donald and Darlene were always there – to provide lead gifts for new, innovative programs; to help fund the additions we have needed as the Shiley Eye Center grew; to offer wise counsel; and to represent the department of ophthalmology at countless center and community functions. We are proud to bear the name Shiley on our center.”

Shiley suffered from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in his later years, and as a result, ophthalmology was a medical area of particular importance to him.  Serving 120,000 patients per year, the Shiley Eye Center has produced significant contributions in the areas of the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of all eye diseases as well as groundbreaking outreach programs such as the first macular degeneration outreach program and the mobile childrens’ eye unit that examines and treats 12,000 young children each year.

Shiley also provided nearly $5 million in support of the Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, named in honor of the Shileys and Darlene’s mother, Dee Marcos, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.  The donations funded an endowed chair, faculty start-up packages, research and clinical trials to better treat, and ultimately cure, Alzheimer’s. 

Shiley and his wife have also been longtime supporters of the Moores UCSD Cancer Center and the Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center. The couple belonged to UC San Diego Chancellor’s Associates, and provided annual support for campus areas including The Preuss School UCSD, Stein Institute for Research on Aging, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and undergraduate scholarships at UC San Diego through the annual Chancellor’s Challenge 5K Run/Walk for Scholars.  They have also given to other educational institutions and community organizations including the University of San Diego, the Old Globe Theatre, KPBS, Scripps Clinic and the University of Portland, Shiley’s alma mater.

Shiley is survived by his wife, four children and five grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in his memory be made to the Shiley Eye Center. Checks payable to the UC San Diego Foundation (with “Donald Shiley Memorial Fund” in the memo) can be sent to UC San Diego Gift Processing, 9500 Gilman Drive, #0940, La Jolla, CA 92093-0940. Donations also can be made online at www.givetoucsd.ucsd.edu; on the Gifts Designation page, in Option A, select “Health Systems” in the first drop-down, then “Donald Shiley Memorial Fund” in the second drop-down menu.  


Media Contacts:
Jade Griffin 858.822.5309 jadegriffin@ucsd.edu

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