As the arrangements for the Annual Meeting in Louisville are taking shape I find my level of anticipation is rising. The meeting should be good fun with good science. We did not get as many abstracts submitted this year as last, but the quality did not suffer and we will be including as many abstracts as we have room for in the poster sessions at the meeting. As for the symposia, breakfast seminars and other offerings at the meeting, the outlook is great; I think there will be a variety of high quality educational opportunities with something appealing for everybody. Not to mention the less structured but no less important opportunities to interact with colleagues, friends and fellow child neurologists which is, in my opinion, a large part of our annual meeting.
If the difficult economic time we are in has taught me anything, it is that we cannot always rely upon the good graces of the Drug Company or Device Company with this year’s hot item to entirely fund our annual meeting. After considerable discussion at the March Executive Committee meeting, it was decided that the CNS will initiate an effort to develop an endowment for the lectureships, awards and prizes which are given each year at the annual meeting. This includes the Hower Award, the Sachs Lectureship, the D’Souza International Travel Award, The Dodge Young Investigator Award, the Lifetime Achievement Awards, Neuroscience Research Prize for the outstanding paper by a high school science student (Jointly sponsored with the AAN) and the Outstanding Junior Member awards. If we do not have to depend on corporate funding for these fundamental components of our meeting it would do two things, 1) ensure that the awards and prizes are secure and can reliably be given each year, and 2) allow greater flexibility in the use of the corporate support we do get for the annual meeting. For example, the discounted registration for junior members which we are able to provide this year could be continued or expanded to include junior members attending even without presenting posters or papers, interested medical students from the special interest groups for Neurology (SIGNs) or others such as Psychologists, Nurses, Developmentalists and others. In this way we could expand the general interest in child neurology and enhance our interactions with these groups who are important to the field of child neurology.
Its clear that to build an endowment of this magnitude will take time, effort and generosity, but I have no doubt that we can and should do it. Accordingly, an endowment fund pledge drive will be launched in conjunction with this year’s meeting which will give everybody the opportunity to participate in the effort. Other endowment campaigns may also be initiated as this process begins to be more clearly defined. This would include the possibility of the creation of separate funds to support individual awards, the Phil Dodge Young Investigator Award, for example.
There are two areas of concern regarding the wellbeing of the CNS that I wish to mention here. Actually there are many areas of concern, but I will discuss two that I think we can do something to correct fairly easily. The first is the disconcerting fact that a large number of individuals taking the ABPN exam for certification in Neurology with Special Competence in Child Neurology the last couple of years were not members of the Society. I think that if those of us who are involved in teaching Child Neurology Residents each take it upon ourselves to mention the CNS, recommend the annual meeting and recommend the resident become a junior member the problem will largely be solved. The junior membership fee is only $50 and many programs will pay that fee for the resident anyway, making it a “no brainer” for them. In addition, this year there is a discount on the annual meeting registration for the junior members who present posters or papers at the meeting, a practice we hope to continue in future years.
The second area of concern is the fact that a significant percentage of our membership is in arrears on the payment of their dues. I recognize that the child neurologist is eligible to be a member of a number of organizations and to belong to all organizations that involve areas of interest can be prohibitively expensive, from a time standpoint if not from a monetary perspective. Another factor here is that the subscription rate to the Annals of Neurology, the official journal of the CNS, will be going up slightly requiring a corresponding increase in the annual dues for the members. (On the other hand, we child neurologists have a disproportionate number of papers published in the Annals compared to the percentage of subscribers we represent.) Furthermore, we (the CNS) do get a substantial portion of the revenue from the Annals each year. I think that the Child Neurology Society is more valuable to its members if indeed the vast majority of the child neurologists in the country are members. The development of budgets and the planning for the yearly activities of the Society are easier and more appropriate if the members reliably pay their dues so as to provide a reliable revenue stream to facilitate the operations of the Society.
Finally, the chairpersons of the committees of the society have all been asked to review the committee membership rosters, indicate the duration and expiration of terms for he members and place this information on the CNS web site. I would like to encourage those members of the society who wish to participate in the work of the committees to indicate to the national office your willingness to serve; those names will be passed on to the committee chairs for consideration as replacements for those committee members whose terms are due to expire. The Society cannot adequately represent its membership if that membership is not participating in the work of the Society.
I hope to see you all in the fall in Louisville.