I love the excitement and enthusiasm that seems to run through the jam-packed days of a CNS Annual Meeting. It’s a feeling I get at no other meeting, a feeling of coming home. If home is that place where, ideally you feel most comfortable and valued, then it makes perfect sense that this annual gathering offers the 700 men and women who share a passionate interest in understanding and educating others about the developing nervous system a place to call their own.
Every year is different (no major hurricane this year—hooray!). But, the idea of the CNS meeting as a kind of homecoming— an all-class reunion drawing friends and colleagues together to celebrate a common calling rather than a common campus— remains the same. What marks this as special is the steady background hum of old friends chatting in between sessions, punctuated by the sudden sharp expressions of surprise and delight when members and their young (or maybe not-so-young) former trainees cross paths and quickly catch up on what’s been going on in their lives, too busy, perhaps, to keep in touch during the year (ah, yes, there’s that familiar shortage of child neurologists issue again). It is that meeting—of mentor and trainee—that “homecoming” aspect of the annual meeting where we recognize and renew our appreciation of those who first lit the spark of interest in neurology in us, who nurtured our professional lives and told us, “this is your place; this is where you belong”—that I am particularly mindful of and grateful for this year.
It is so fitting that we are able to honor Mike Painter with the Hower Award this year, in “his” town, Pittsburgh, the place where, for nearly a quarter-century, he mentored a whole host of child neurologists. And it is equally fitting that, when you look over the list of this year’s awardees—Mike Painter (Hower), Donna Ferriero (Sachs), Ellliot Sherr (YIA), Ray Chun and Barry Russman (Lifetime Achievement)—what stands out is how centrally important the role of teacher and guide is to all of them. It’s a quality many in this Society and in our field richly share. Many of you may not know it, but those CNS members who speak at the various symposia and seminars do so pro bono. They receive no honorarium, no reimbursement for hotel and air costs, no registration fee waiver; they come in the spirit of true mentors, eager to share their knowledge and excitement with colleagues young and old for the benefit of the Society and their chosen field of study. The same generosity of spirit moves those serving on CNS committees (special thanks to Gary Clark who put in A LOT OF TIME organizing this year’s scientific program) or spearheading Special Interest Group meetings or, as Meredith Golomb is doing for the second year in a row now, organizing a luncheon for junior members aimed at informing and enlivening a sense of what their future in child neurology may hold.
The future of child neurology lies in our continued passionate commitment to passing the torch along. I hope to talk with all of you soon about an exciting mentoring program for professional development going on at Wake Forest that the Society should look into emulating. I would also like to draw your immediate attention to a novel study of child neurologists’ values being conducted at this year’s meeting, thanks to Dr. Bernie Maria. Working closely with Dr. George Richard, who directs the Careers in Medicine Program at the AAMC, Bernie has made arrangements to bring in a cadre of young investigators from around the country with career interests in neurosciences and pediatric neurology. Some of these students will administer the Physician Values in Practice Scale to willing child neurologist volunteers. I urge all CNS members to welcome these young investigators and to take the 5-10 minutes needed to complete the survey. Your cooperation in this venture may well prove to have a lasting ripple effect on the future of child neurology.
I look forward to greeting you all in Pittsburgh. Thanks again for the privilege and honor of being your President.