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The Dr. Robert L. Austin
Endowed Lectureship

The Dr. Robert L. Austin Endowed Lectureship in Pediatric Medicine, Pharmacology and Health Care Policy is made possible by a generous donation from Mrs. Gloria L. Austin of La Mirada, California in memory of her husband, Robert, a pediatrician and early supporter of the University. In addition to the lecture, the endowment provides funds for annual scholarships for both an osteopathic medical student and a pharmacy student.

About the Lectureship

Date: Tuesday, April 4, 2023, 5:00 p.m.

Location: Health Education Center, Lecture Hall 2 and Streaming Live from Lecture Hall 1 at COMP-Northwest


"Meeting the Increasing Vision Challenges Facing School-Aged Children"
Dr. Block will be discussing issues of access to equitable and affordable eye care and vision problems that are increasing in prevalence.

To view the recording, click here. 




About the Guest Speaker
Sandra S. Block, OD, M Ed, MPH, FAAO, FCOVD, FNAP 

Sandra S. Block, O.D., M. Ed., MPH, FAAO, FCOVD, FNAP, FARVO is a Professor Emeritus at Illinois College of Optometry.  Dr. Block received her O.D. degree (1981) and completed a Pediatric Residency (1982) at the Illinois College of Optometry after which she taught from 1981-2020. She completed her Master of Education at National Louis University and her Master of Public Health from the University of Illinois, School of Public Health.


Dr. Block retired from a faculty position in 2020 after 39 years of teaching with her last position as the Medical Director, Illinois Eye Institute, Princeton School, a school-based vision clinic serving low-income children in Chicago.  She is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, a Diplomate in Public Health and Environmental Vision Section, a fellow of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, a Distinguished Fellow of the National Academy of Practice and just received her fellow in ARVO in 2022.


She currently serves as the President-Elect of the World Council of Optometry.  After 27 years, Dr. Block retired from her position as Global Clinical Advisor and consultant to the Special Olympics Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes program.  She is past chair of the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health. She has recently joined the VISION 2020 USA Board of Directors.


While a consultant to the Special Olympics Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes program she was instrumental in developing the vision program globally in an effort to address the lack of access of vision care to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Her interests lie in primary care for children, vulnerable populations, and persons with disabilities, as well as public health issues facing the equity and quality of eye care delivery. Dr. Block has authored numerous publications and conducted presentations nationally and internationally.

Past Lectures

September 24, 2009 – “Putting the Child First: Pharmaceutical Development Targeting the Pediatric Patient”
SPEAKER: Russell Clayton, DO
Vice President of Academic and Medical Affairs at Discovery Laboratories in Warrington, Penn.

April 5, 2011 – “Autism: Early Detection, Effective Multidisciplinary Treatment, and Possible Preventative Measures”
SPEAKER: Robert W. Sears, MD
Author and Medical Advisory Board Member for Talk About Curing Autism

March 15, 2012 – “Building a Comprehensive Child Vision Care System”
SPEAKER: Deborah Klein Walker, EdD
Vice President, Senior Fellow and the Practice Leader for Public Health and Epidemiology in the Health Division of Abt Associates, Inc.

April 21, 2015 – “The Vulnerable Child: A Challenge to Multi-disciplinary Pediatric Care”
SPEAKER: Astrid Heppenstall Heger, MD
Executive Director of the Violence Intervention Project at LAC+USC Medical Center, and a professor of clinical pediatrics at USC’s Keck School of Medicine

April 13, 2016 – “Exploring the Lifelong Effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences”
SPEAKER: Vincent J. Felitti, MD
UCSD Clinical Professor of Medicine and Co-Principal Investigator of the Adverse Childhood Experience Study

February 13, 2020 – "Understanding Homelessness and Responding to Childhood Trauma and ACEs: Clinical and Community Perspectives"
SPEAKERS: Paul M. Leon, RN, BSN, PHN; Geeta Grover, MD; and Pooja Bhalla, DNP, RN
Illumination Foundation

March 17, 2021 – “COVID-19 Risks and Resilience for Child Behavior and Development”
SPEAKER: Ann S. Masten, PhD, LP
Regents Professor of Child Development at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities

March 3, 2022 – “The Impossible Balancing Act: Protecting our Young from COVID-19 and the Unintended Consequences"
SPEAKER: Judy A. Guzman-Cottrill, DO
Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Oregon Health and Science University


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Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Dr. Preeti Kotha, PharmD '06 talks about the impact philanthropy has on WesternU and our communities. 


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