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Jules and Doris Stein

Jules Stein is the foremost benefactor in the world history of vision science and blindness prevention. He combined his love for music and medicine with a unique talent for analysis and organization to produce a lifetime of celebrated achievements as musician, physician, business leader and humanitarian.

Jules Stein

Jules Stein, Chairman of the Board of MCA Inc., for whom the Eye Institute is named.

Jules Stein was born in South Bend, Indiana, in 1896. He graduated – at age 18 from the University of Chicago and later received his M.D. degree from Rush Medical College. He interned at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, where he completed his residency training in ophthalmology. He pursued postgraduate studies abroad at the University of Vienna and returned to the United States to begin his medical practice in Chicago and was duly certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.

A musician from an early age, he financed his education by playing in and leading his own band. As his reputation increased, he began booking other musicians for professional engagements, and in 1924 he founded Music Corporation of America (MCA). Shortly thereafter, he gave up the practice of medicine to concentrate on this enterprise. Within 10 years, MCA represented most of the great name bands and corporate activities began to extend to representation of film stars, directors, writers and musical artists. MCA entered the promising new field of television at its inception, eventually acquiring the Universal City property, Universal Pictures and other enterprises to become pre-eminent in the entertainment industry.

Jules and Doris Stein

Jules and Doris Stein (center) are shown in an early photograph with their grown children (from left), Lawrence Oppenheimer, Susan Stein, Gerald Oppenheimer, and Jean Stein.

Throughout his phenomenally successful career, Jules Stein maintained a strong interest and emotional investment in medicine, particularly his own field of ophthalmology. In the late 1950s, urged by his wife Doris, he chose to direct his considerable talents to blindness prevention. The result was a concert of ideas and achievements that encompassed philanthropy, government and academic medicine.

Groundbreaking festivities on Sept. 22, 1964

Groundbreaking festivities on Sept. 22, 1964, were celebrated by Bette Davis, Jules Stein, and Gene Kelly (diagonal from left), Cesar Romero, Bob Hope, and architect Rodney Hemsworth.

By his efforts, Research to Prevent Blindness was created, now recognized as the world’s leading voluntary organization in support of studies of the eye and its diseases. Jules Stein was largely responsible for the passage of legislation to establish the National Eye Institute as a separate entity in the National Institutes of Health. Under his leadership, the SEI was founded as a multidisciplinary center for vision science. Since its establishment, SEI has become internationally identified as the focus for coordinated programs of research in the sciences related to vision, ophthalmic education, and the care of patients with eye disease.

Jules Stein died in 1981, leaving a legacy of hope to the world. Through his accomplishments and philanthropy, he created ever-replenishing resources for eye research and the means to preserve and restore sight for future generations.