By Bruce H. Cohen, MD
As I approach the end of my first year serving as President of the CNS, I am struck by the overlapping cycles shaping and defining my tenure. This past year our Society transitioned from celebrating its first 50 years at the annual meeting in Boston (“The CNS: Past, Present and Future”) to regathering for this year’s meeting in Cincinnati (“Where the Next
50 Years Begins”).
Paralleling and punctuating that transition has been the change in leadership that began last year in Boston when Roger Larson announced his wish to retire in 2022 after 40 years working for the CNS, the last 10 as its 2nd Executive Director, succeeding Mary Currey. Members attending this year’s meeting in Cincinnati will have a chance to meet our new Executive Director/CEO, Monique Terrell. Ms. Terrell’s selection was the final step of a 10-month national search conducted by our 12-member Search Committee working in conjunction with the Boston-based executive search firm, Isaacson Miller. Monique brings a broad range of skills to the job having filled numerous leadership positions at the College of American Pathologists, based in Chicago. She has been transitioning quickly into the role and looks forward to meeting members and gaining added momentum from those interactions in October. This transition in executive leadership has dominated my efforts for the last few months, even more so since the transition date of September 1st was decided. It has been an exciting and emotional few weeks, bringing Monique onboard and saying goodbye to Roger. I am so pleased that so many of you will have the chance to share that experience in Cincinnati as you welcome Monique and honor Roger at the Legacy Luncheon on Wednesday.
Other cycles include the annual election of new officers this past summer. The three new officers chosen in August by their colleagues to begin serving on the CNS Executive Committee in October are:
- President-Elect: Peter Kang, MD
- Councillor for the South: Diana Cejas, MD, MPH
- Councillor for the West: Alison Christy, MD, PhD
Peter will enter the four-year cycle of the presidency, serving his first year as President-Elect, replacing Phillip Pearl, MD as he completes the final year of his four-year cycle as Immediate Past-President. Diane will start her two-year term, replacing Audrey Brumback, MD, PhD, and Alison will succeed Sonia Partap, MD. These new officers join Lori Jordan, MD, PhD (Secretary Treasurer), Janet Soul, MD (Councillor for the Northeast), Sucheta Joshi, MD (Councillor for the Midwest), and myself (President).
It’s hard to believe, but we are all just one week away from crossing paths in Cincinnati as this issue of CNS Connections gets posted on the CNS website. This year’s meeting theme, appropriately, is “Where the Next 50 Years Begins”. The Scientific Selection & Program Planning Committee, co-chaired by Yasmin Khakoo, MD and Bhooma Aravamuthan, MD, DPhil have worked hard to provide outstanding content, with great breadth and depth, throughout the meeting. I am particularly excited about two featured parts of the program: the Presidential Symposium on Thursday morning, and the “TED-style” talks to be presented throughout the meeting as part of the Young Members Forum put together over the summer by Drs. Alex Cohen and Ariel Lyons-Warren.
This year’s Presidential Symposium will focus on “Quality” and the importance of expanding our reach into every aspect of care delivery. Speakers include thought leaders on quality initiatives and its role in our practice recruited from within our Society and the AAN. This is not the first time a CNS president has stepped aside from focusing on some aspect of neuroscience in the Presidential Symposium. Ken Mack focused on “Practice Issues” five years ago in the Presidential Symposium kicking off the 2017 meeting in Kansas City. Five years later, the time is ripe for burrowing deeper into practice issues by taking a hard look at “Quality.” As a disclaimer, I do not hold myself as any expert on the “Science of Quality”; I will be learning along with you from the experts at the podium and seated on the panel upfront. I have, however, spent my career cultivating a particular interest in CPT coding and payment policy. As national payment policy is rapidly shifting from the fee-for-service model to capitated care, the science that drives our clinical decision-making also must adapt to meet the additional pressure that frankly results in practice patterns different than those to which we are accustomed.
This major change in health care payments will require a shift from delivering an increasing volume of care towards a smart approach that requires a focus on a smart-systems approach to evaluation and management. The term quality as applied to healthcare is a broadly designed series of concepts defined by the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) as “the degree to which health services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with current professional knowledge”. These changes in our practice will require acceptance and recommendations based on using both human and AI review of data gathered. This will result in modeled care that we all can use uniformly in our practice.
Child Neurology, like many small specialties, is a bit late joining the game. But as one example, the use of quality technology has dramatically changed the world for children suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. I trust this symposium will lay the groundwork for increased interest and acceptance on the difficult road ahead.
Young Members Forum
A second major initiative that has me excited about the upcoming meeting in Cincinnati is a new program developed for our younger members. Initially referred to as the Junior and Early Career Development Initiative (JEDI), the program will gather in an open dedicated meeting space (located right below the general sessions meeting room for quick and easy access) for a series of brief talks and conversations constituting the first-ever “Young Members Forum”. The program was developed by Alexander Cohen and Ariel Lyons-Warren, and features a series of approximately 25 TED-type talks with discussion to follow. Although this program is intended for the younger members of the CNS, there are no age restrictions to attend the forum. Child neurologists born before Roger started working for the CNS in 1982 are more than welcome to participate.
51st Annual Meeting
The official start of our Annual Meeting is the Opening Reception on Wednesday evening, from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm, but there’s a packed line-up of great events going on all-day Wednesday that I hope you will arrive early enough to consider attending, including:
The Child Neurology Foundation Symposium (8:00 am – 11:00 am)
This year’s CNF workshop is entitled “Clinical Trials in Pediatric Neurology: Our Role in Improving Participation and Outcomes.” This will be “Part 1” of a two-year program developed by the CNF for CNS members. This session will be presented in-person only and is sold out, but as is the case with all symposia and seminars, it will be recorded and can be viewed through December 1 on the virtual meeting platform by both those registering to attend live/in-person or virtually.
Kenneth F. Swaiman Legacy Luncheon (11:30 am – 1:30 pm, immediately following the CNF symposium).
Five “senior” awards and nine “junior” awards will be presented at the luncheon, underscoring the generational continuum inherent in the concept of “Legacy”. Among the highlights of the award presentations will be those recognizing this year’s Roger & Mary Brumback Lifetime Achievement Awardees: Jeffrey Buchhalter, MD, PhD, Michael Noetzel, MD and Roger Larson, CAE. Tragically, Michael Noetzel died after a brief illness weeks after learning he won this award; his family has graciously agreed to travel to our meeting to accept this award on his behalf following introductions by Chris Gurnett and Brad Schlaggar. Jeff Bucchalter, whom I have worked with and learned much from on practice issues throughout my career, will be introduced by Bill Trescher. And, Roger Larson, our recently retired Executive Director, will become the first non-neurologist to be presented this award; Roger will offer his reflections after introductions by Barry Kosofsky and Nina Schor. You will not want to miss these presentations and the opportunity they afford to learn not just about the lives and careers of those honored, but about ourselves as a Society – past, present, and future.
I hope you consider attending both events. There is a fee for each event, which only partially covers the room and catering expense. All proceeds from the Legacy Luncheon fee will be directed this year to fund 2022 and future years’ Junior Member Awards renamed in honor of Dr. Tauen Chang, a past two-time Outstanding Junior Member awardee who passed away in June. Before leaving the conversation of the annual meeting, I am going to ask a favor of those attending the meeting: please take time to visit the exhibitor booths to thank them for their continued, critically important participation in and support for CNS Annual Meetings.
Upcoming Membership Survey
Before closing, I want to urge you to be alert to and participate in the upcoming membership survey that I have been talking about for the past 10 months. The survey was finalized about six months ago, but because of the sensitive nature of many of the survey items, has been “hung up” in an IRB. Once approved, this survey will be the basis of planning a host of child neurology initiatives, tools and reforms, from CNS on-line and meeting programming to members’ individual practice patterns and compensation. I cannot emphasize enough how important your participation in this survey is as we continue to build programing for our membership and a viable future for our specialty.
Finally, at the risk of repeating myself, I want to again thank Roger Larson for his nearly 40 years of dedication to our organization and the masterful craftsmanship he demonstrated in knitting and sustaining the fabric that binds us together within the CNS. Roger recognizes and writes about the many interwoven cycles of our existence, including, most recently, those rooted in Washington University in St. Louis. This year’s Phillip R. Dodge (a giant at Wash U) Young Investigator Award will be presented to Bhooma Aravamuthan, MD, DPhil, a Wash U graduate and faculty member. This year too, we will honor and say a sad farewell to Michael Noetzel, MD, who spent his entire professional career at Wash U. Roger reminded me, as I was composing this letter to you, that I had just dropped my daughter off at Wash U, to begin her freshman year, as a biochemistry major--the 4th generation of Cohens attending that great institution.
Saying goodbye to Roger will be sad. Saying hello to his successor, Monique Terrell, will be a moment to look forward to and savor as we look to her and join with her in exploring the bright future that awaits the CNS beginning next week in Cincinnati, “Where the Next 50 Years Begins.”