Happy Synergies

April / May 2014 Letter from CNS President

The 2014 Annual Meeting of the Child Neurology Society (CNS) may seem a long way off. But only the summer lies between now and then. It is a curious task, assembling the program for this extravaganza, a task I share with Dr. Jonathan Mink and his Scientific Selection Committee, through them, with the membership of the CNS, and with Roger Larson and his staff at the CNS office. This task means crafting a program that, at once, reflects the programmatic and professional diversity of the CNS and stands together as a programmatically unified whole. The key to reconciling these two equally important characteristics is dialogue (or trialogue or tetralogue, as perhaps would be more appropriate).

What makes the CNS meeting important and fruitful and what keeps so many of us coming back year after year is that it fosters dialogue between community and academic neurologists; between physicians and advanced practice nurses; between lay advocates and medical professionals; between clinicians and scientists; between trainees and faculty. This year will be no exception! In fact, we plan to take these happy synergies to a new level!

Why would we go to all the trouble of juxtaposing people and approaches not often placed in the same sentence? Perhaps an example explains it best. What has come to be called “big data” is all the rage these days. Being able to collect, mine, and analyze reams of data is a powerful tool, to be sure. But big questions and big ideas are what make a difference in the world of medicine. And the “biases” of hypothesis-driven research are not biases at all. They are evidence-based predictions and inferences. Value and innovation and knowledge are born only of the dialogue between the unbiased and hypothesis-driven ways of looking at data. This is true whether those data and hypotheses derive from large populations of zebrafish or mice or humans or from the “n of 1” study we call evidence-based clinical medicine.

And so, our 2014 CNS Annual Meeting will present symposia on overarching topics of interest and relevance to us all, with talks that provide views of those topics from basic scientists, physicians, physical therapists, epidemiologists, and lay advocates. For our trainees and junior members, there will be a programmatic “thread” that courses through the entire meeting that will connect various mentoring topics of critical importance to building a career and becoming a member of the wonderful child neurology family. For those interested in epilepsy or ataxia or neurogenetics or stroke there will be an opportunity to drill down deeply as sub-sub-specialists and to network broadly as a child neurologist.

And what would a CNS meeting be without a great venue and a lot of fun? Columbus promises to win your hearts and stimulate your minds. Once we fill it with the warmth and energy of the CNS members and their partners from the Child Neurology Foundation, the Association of Child Neurology Nurses, and their colleagues from the autism advocacy community and the NIH, the sky will be the limit!