As we approach the beginning of July and a new year for those of you in academic settings, it is a time to reflect on the future of our profession. We have had another successful match with bright and energetic recent graduates from medical school about to enter residency training in Child Neurology (see 2018 Match Update, page 8 of Spring/Summer 2018 CNS Connections). At the same time, we say congratulations to newly minted graduates who are on their way to ABPN certification in Neurology with Special Qualifications in Child Neurology and, in some cases, Neurodevelopmental Disabilities. Others are finishing subspecialty fellowship training. Many are about to start their first job after training. Never has there been a more exciting time to enter Child Neurology. The knowledge and opportunities to apply that knowledge are expanding rapidly. The two-way translation between research and practice is more vibrant than ever with patient-based therapy development and laboratory discoveries informing patient care. This was especially evident in the submitted proposals for symposia at the upcoming Annual Meeting and in the abstract submissions, which came in at a record number this year.
In view of both the excitement and challenges that accompany the emergence of new disease modifying treatments for neurological disorders in children, the Presidential Symposium this year will be “Child Neurology at the Forefront of Treatable Rare Diseases.” Erika Augustine, MD, Chair of the Scientific Program Committee, and I have worked together to assemble an outstanding group of speakers to address matters from diagnostic challenges to public policy and ethics in relation to rare disease treatment. Confirmed speakers include William A. Gahl, MD PhD, Clinical Director, National Human Genome Research Institute, Tracy Dixon-Salazar, PhD, Director of Research and Strategy at the Lennox Gastaut Syndromes Foundation, and Lainie Friedman Ross, MD PhD, Carolyn and Matthew Bucksbaum Professor of Clinical Ethics at the University of Chicago. We are still awaiting confirmation from an additional invitee, but will have a final program soon.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to address the recent statement issued by the Child Neurology Society regarding the forced separation of children from their parents at our southern border. (Statement printed on page 4 of Spring/Summer 2018 CNS Connections). The CNS rarely issues statements of this kind. However, it was our view that as the leading voice for the field of Child Neurology in the United States, we had something pertinent to contribute on this time-sensitive matter, alerting policymakers to the impact of adverse childhood experiences on brain structure and function. It is within the mission of the CNS to advocate for Child Neurologists as professionals and for our patients. We did not express a specific position on immigration policy, on border protection, or on how the United States handles asylum requests. That is not our expertise. But, we did think it was important to contribute the developmental neurology perspective, joining with the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and other similar professional organizations in issuing a statement on this matter affecting children.
Any public statement of advocacy by a professional organization that purports to present an expert viewpoint reflecting the broad consensus of its members in a rapidly shifting civic conversation must, of necessity, rely upon a governing board elected by its members to represent them in this and other such matters of public interest. I was fortunate to be able to submit this statement for vetting to the collective wisdom of a board that includes Ken Mack, Bruce Cohen, Peter Kang, Mary Zupanc, Don Gilbert and Mike Shevell. We are all fortunate to have the opportunity to elect three new officers to represent us on the board in this summer’s on-line election. I encourage all Active CNS member to approach this opportunity—this responsibility—as “high-” vs “low-information voters” by reading the profiles and responses penned by the six candidates (page 28) before voting on-line July 10–August 8.
I look forward to seeing you at the Annual Meeting in Chicago.