The first Austin Lecture at Western University of Health Sciences will focus on ways to improve the development of medication for children.

Keynote speaker Russell Clayton, DO, will present “Putting the Child First: Pharmaceutical Development Targeting the Pediatric Patient” at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24 in the Health Professions Center, Amphitheater II.

Dr. Clayton is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric pulmonology. When he practiced pediatric medicine, prior to joining the pharmaceutical industry, a lot of prescription instructions for children were based on research on adults, he said. Pediatricians didn’t know whether a certain dosage would be safe or effective for children.

In the 1990s, new legislation provided incentives to drug companies to at least include children in their research.

“I want to talk about the things that could be done, what direction the industry should be and is going in, in order to put kids first,” Dr. Clayton said.

Dr. Clayton is Vice President of Academic and Medical Affairs at Discovery Laboratories in Warrington, Penn. He previously served as an attending pulmonologist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he was Director of the Pulmonary Function Laboratory and the Asthma Program and Associate Director of the Cystic Fibrosis Center

Dr. Clayton received his doctorate in osteopathic medicine from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He has received faculty appointments at three medical schools, including the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He has presented numerous invited lectures and has served as a visiting professor both nationally and internationally. His research has spanned the spectrum from basic science to clinical research, and has included the study of surfactant, liquid ventilation, infant pulmonary function and cystic fibrosis.

Dr. Clayton said he is looking forward to returning to an academic setting for a day. He will tour the WesternU campus and talk with students prior to the Austin Lecture.

“There is nothing I like better than to set foot on a college campus. I’m especially interested in any opportunity to interact with medical students,” he said. “I am at heart an academian. When I retire from the pharmaceutical industry, I intend to teach.”

The Dr. Robert L. Austin Endowed Lectureship in Pediatric Medicine and Pediatric Health Policy was established in Dr. Austin’s memory by his wife, Gloria, their children, Charles, Douglas and Lynette, and their families.

Dr. Austin earned his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1946 and took the MD degree in 1962, when the American Medical Association formally recognized California DOs as qualified MDs. As a practicing pediatrician, he spent his medical career providing health care and sage advice to his patients and their families.

He was a faculty member at the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific until his retirement in 1981. His interest in pediatric medicine remained strong until his death in March 2000. The lectureship is meant to honor and perpetuate his lifelong love of medical practice and his pursuit of pediatric knowledge in the health professions.

“Keeping in mind the vision of the Austins, we searched for someone who would not only convey a passion for pediatric medicine, but also the understanding and insight into the very complex relationship and reliance we have on the pharmaceutical industry. We were delighted to find that the final candidate was an osteopathic physician,” said COMP Dean Clinton Adams, DO, FAAFP, FACHE. “The Austin family’s endowment gives us the opportunity to bring in engaging, top-notch medical professionals in the field of pediatric medicine, pediatric pharmacology, and pediatric health care policy to enrich not only our students, but also faculty and staff with the latest in cutting-edge information, thereby fomenting an environment of lifelong learning for everyone.”

Dr. Clayton said he is thrilled to serve as the first keynote speaker for the Austin Lecture.

“Any time somebody is asked to be the inaugural speaker like this, it is a rare honor and a tremendous privilege,” he said. “I hope as a consequence of my presentation, people are enlightened. I hope to raise more questions than I answer. I like to think I walked away stimulating minds. That’s my goal.”