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A Year of Loss….A Time For Opportunities

Winter/Spring 2021

By Philip L. Pearl, MD

Phillip L. Pearl, MD

It has been a year of loss, but a time for opportunities. The Child Neurology Society is on a breakneck pace to pull off our long anticipated 50th Anniversary meeting this fall, with contingency plans for all formats, i.e. a “physical, non-virtual” (i.e. real?) meeting, a virtual conference (do we really have to go through this again?), or a hybrid (the most likely). As I write this letter, we are not certain which of these will dominate, and we have only begun exploring the potential for alternative scenarios, including regional meetings given the possibility of ongoing travel restrictions. We will roll out the answers as soon as we have them, but we do not want to prematurely convert our 50th/Golden Anniversary to a purely virtual event. Hope springs eternal!

New initiatives and existing endeavors remain on front burners. This issue of CNS Connections features the inaugural issue of Child Neuro Synopses, under the direction of our Connections Editor-in-Chief, Dan Bonthius; published quarterly in each issue of CNS Connections, it’s a publication we think will fill an important niche. Future issues will include contributions from CNS historian, Steve Ashwal. Having completed the second edition of the Founders book, which will include the “Evolution and Development of Child Neurology” and will be released in sync with our Golden Anniversary meeting, Steve will bring an added historical dimension to this new section, highlighting the seminal papers that have influenced the field and about which we all must know.

The CNS and PCN have together initiated the Leadership, Diversity, and Equity Task Force, led by Rujuta Bhatt Wilson MD from UCLA. Mission planning was gathering real momentum when Rujuta and her task force members found tragic cause to pause and respond, along with the boards of both organizations, to the horrific anti-AAPI and anti-women fueled violence in Atlanta two weeks ago. Members will note that we hearkened back to the editorial published in the Annals of Neurology last summer as a call to arms against racism, knowing that we are well positioned to shine the light on equal care, access, and respect for all.

The Research Committee, under the direction of Gabrielle deVeber and Josh Bonkowsky, has responded to a Request for Information by the NINDS to guide the NIH/NINDS Strategic Plan for Research 2021-2026. Their comments were timely and substantive, coming fresh off the heels of developing a white paper in response to an earlier call for comment from the NINDS about priorities in child neurology research needs; that effort culminated in two publications in Pediatric Neurology (Bonkowsky et al: Pediatric Neurology Research in the Twenty-First Century: Status, Challenges, and Future Directions Post-COVID-19, Pediatr Neurol 2020 Dec; 113:2-12; and Bonkowsky et al: The Pediatric Neurology 2020 Research Workforce Survey: Optimism in a Time of Challenge. Pediatr Neurol 2021 Mar; 116:62-67). The theme resonates well with the theme for this year’s 50th/Golden Anniversary meeting: connecting past and present to future in responding meaningfully to the challenges of our time.

The Scientific Program planning Committee, under the direction of Carl Stafstrom and Yasmin Khakoo, has evaluated an impressive array of symposium proposals submitted by CNS members and will soon be immersed in reviewing abstracts. Meeting planning is shaping up nicely, with guaranteed high quality content even if we cannot yet guarantee the delivery format.

These are just a few examples of committees working hard. We have just assigned nearly 50 new volunteers to committees, and the energy level has never been higher! (See page 40). Enjoy this issue of CNS Connections, take special notice of the announcements of this year’s awardees, and make a special effort to respond to the call for nominations for the Blue Bird Circle Training Director Award and D’Souza International Fellowship Award in eConnections sent your way in the next week. While much of last year was spent responding to the pandemic and pivoting from a live to a virtual presentation format for the joint CNS-ICNA meeting, this year we want to celebrate and connect our Past, Present, and Future with special events including a Legacy Luncheon honoring this year’s awardees and a standing ovation for all previous awardees able to make it to Boston. There will also be book signings by those featured in the Founders book as well as those writing their profiles, top quality seminars and symposia, a Child Neurology Foundation event on solving the diagnostic odyssey using cases submitted to whole exome sequencing, and a Presidential Symposium that will include an appreciative look back at the Past, a state-of-the-union address surveying the Present, and a lively and inspiring collaborative presentation by a group of young investigators representing our future.