Bringing CNS Members Together to Make Children’s Lives Better


Dear Friends,

By Philip L. Pearl, MD

Phillip L. Pearl, MD

With palpable excitement the CNS is roaring into full planning mode for the 50th Anniversary Meeting to be held on site in Boston (with virtual options) September 29 – October 2. Mark your calendars and make travel arrangements! I would like to highlight three major initiatives in this Summer CNS Connections issue:

1. 50th/Golden Anniversary Meeting: Past, Present, and Future

2. Leadership, Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Task Force and Programming

3. Formation of a new CNS Journal

The theme of celebrating legacy and the future was kicked off during the spring AAN meeting, when the CNS sponsored a stirring session featuring Marvin Fishman, Huda Zoghbi, and Hsiao-Tuan Chao: “The CNS at Fifty Years: Past, Present, and Future – the Baylor Program as Exemplar.” You will not want to miss out on the Legacy Luncheon on Day 1 of the Fall meeting, bringing together CNS members of all ages and career stages to honor this year’s Brumback Lifetime Achievement, Gold Humanism, and CNS-PECN Training Director Awardees as well as all past elected officers and award recipients (see page 14). There will be time before the luncheon, and in following days to pick up your copy of the second edition of the Founders book, expertly edited once again by Steve Ashwal. The 1990 version featured profiles of 124 founders up to 1960; this edition has been expanded with fourteen new masterful topical overviews and an additional 137 new profiles crossing over into the new millenium. Members will have the chance upon registering to buy the $200 book for $100, picking it up upon their arrival in Boston. Be sure to purchase a book at 50% when registering, and leave extra room in your luggage for the home trip; this is a once in a lifetime opportunity you won’t want to miss to have this edition signed at the meeting by Steve and a rich mix of other profile subjects and authors attending this milestone meeting along with you.

The Scientific Selection Committee, chaired by Carl Stafstrom and co-chaired by Yasmin Khakoo, received a record number of abstracts and high quality symposia submissions. Hot topics, from Covid-19 to Career Development, will be presented by some of our most highly recognized, world-renowned senior members and an impressive line-up of new investigators, including those featured as part of the Presidential Symposium on Wednesday and the CNCDP Symposium Friday morning. Bracketing the packed scientific program will be Part II of the Child Neurology Foundation’s “Diagnostic Odyssey” on Wednesday morning, and a special workshop on clinical research jointly hosted by the CNS and CNF on Saturday afternoon.

David Urion and I have gone back into the studio to record a Medical Humanities curriculum combining literary and musical selections for an on-line series focused on New England literary lore to be featured on the new CNS website as prelude to the meeting. The meeting will also feature a live Humanities symposium including Carl Stafstrom covering art in neurologic practice, Nina Schor on poetry, musical and medical history on my part, and a much needed dose of stand-up patter from Joe Pinter.

The Leadership, Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Task Force has synthesized an impressive list of strategic initiatives looking into diversity and equity issues within the CNS and the larger field of child neurology as experienced through the clinical care afforded our patients. This has been chaired by Rujuta Bhatt Wilson along with active support from a committed group of members, including Erika Augustine, Nancy Bass, Alexander Bassuk, Audrey Brumback, Diana Mercedes Cejas, Renee Shellhaas, Jonathan Strober, and Ann Tilton. The group will be sponsoring an important virtual symposium in conjunction with the Fall meeting, and will also be summarizing their activities in a new series on Diversity and Equity in Neurology to be published in the Annals of Neurology.

Speaking of the Annals, I would like to take this opportunity to apprise members of ongoing negotiations toward formation of a new CNS journal. As reported in a prior eConnections letter, a seven-year contract with the ANA for continued partnership in the Annals of Neurology was successfully negotiated and signed effective January 1, 2021. That process culminated in a range of joint initiatives between the CNS and ANA. I hope you have noticed the very prominent pediatric neurology and developmental neurobiology content in the Annals, with Scott Pomeroy serving as Associate Editor for pediatric content. There were also CNS editorials published in the management of infantile spasms during the pandemic, institutional racism, and just this month a joint call for papers for the aforementioned new series on diversity and equity in neurology. This series will open with a series of articles contributed by the German Neurological Society in a massive introspective undertaking assessing the effects of the brutal Nazi regime on neurologists leading to the renaming of eponymic diseases and named awards. The responses by the early 20th century German neurologists ranged from Nazi loyalty to indifference to resistance, and are relevant to issues in society today.

During these discussions, we also sought and received the endorsement of the ANA and editorial board of the Annals and its companion journal, the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology (ACTN), to develop a new journal in child neurology to be added to the Annals series. At this stage, there are ongoing discussions with Wiley to develop a journal that represents issues of interest to CNS members, publishing clinically oriented papers that are not accepted by, much less submitted to the Annals. I wish to thank Steve Roach and Marc Patterson for their very helpful input. I have submitted a prospectus to Wiley with the help of President-Elect Bruce Cohen, Executive Director Roger Larson, and CNS liaisons to the Annals, Nigel Bamford and Ken Mack. While one priority was to maintain our important alliance with the ANA, another is for the CNS to have a journal that focuses on the priorities and needs of our members. In time, we will invite participation of as many members as possible in this effort, especially when we get to the point of content and editorial oversight. As of this writing, negotiations are in progress, but the Executive Board is committed to the concept.

This closes my last CNS Connections Letter from the President before the official conference issue. Traditionally, the outgoing President engages in a Q&A with Connections Editor Dan Bonthius for the Fall/Annual Meeting issue in lieu of penning a final “farewell” letter. I am going to take the opportunity to expand and enrich the Q&A by adding a third voice to the mix, my outstanding successor, Bruce Cohen. I want to take this opportunity to thank Bruce for joining Roger and me for our weekly (and sometimes more) meetings since last year’s CNS election, and I want to especially thank Roger and the National Office staff – Sue Hussman, Kathy Pavel, and Emily McConnell – for keeping the CNS going through the pandemic, virtual joint meeting with ICNA, and the build-up to the Golden Anniversary meeting that you won’t want to miss.


Phillip L. Pearl MD
President, Child Neurology Society
William G. Lennox Chair, Boston Children’s Hospital
Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Music and Health Institute, Berklee College of Music
Boston, MA