I wish everyone a Happy New Year. May you all have happiness and success in 2018. It is an exciting time for the field of child neurology. Disease-modifying therapeutics for rare and fatal neurodegenerative disease are now becoming reality with FDA approval in the past year of Brineura (cerliponase alfa) for CLN2 disease (late-infantile Batten Disease) and Spinraza (nusinersen) for spinal muscular atrophy; more are on the horizon. Despite a tight funding environment, research in child neurology and developmental neuroscience continues to provide important advances. The number of clinical child neurologists also continues to grow, providing improved access to high quality neurological care for children.
Plans are already underway for what promises to be an exciting 47th Annual Meeting in Chicago this year. By now, you have probably received a few notices that the meeting days will be different from our traditional Wednesday through Saturday. This year’s meeting will start Monday October 15 and run through Thursday October 18. Proposals for symposia and breakfast seminars have been received and will be reviewed by the Scientific Selection and Program Planning Committee over the next month. The abstract submission site will remain open until midnight, April 2.
As I assume the role of President, I want to state some of my priorities for the next two years. The first is to increase the diversity of membership on the CNS committees and ultimately in the leadership of the Society. The membership of the CNS is currently about 50 percent men and 50 percent women, but 70 percent of current residents in child neurology are women. The number of historically under-represented minorities is also increasing among our members and trainees. As the path to leadership in professional societies usually starts with participation on a committee, this will be one focus of our efforts to increase diversity. For any member who is interested in serving on a committee, please contact me (Jonathan_Mink@ urmc.rochester.edu) or Roger Larson (firstname.lastname@example.org) to express your interest and which committee(s) would be most aligned with your interests. In addition, we will be launching a new effort to include junior member participation on the committees. An announcement regarding nominations will be forthcoming in the next couple of months.
Another priority is to increase our alliances with other organizations active in our field. These include the American Academy of Neurology, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the International Child Neurology Association, The Child Neurology Foundation, and others. I do believe that there is “safety in numbers”. We must not relinquish our identity as child neurologists and must not allow the needs of child neurology to become secondary priorities to the needs of the larger fields of pediatrics and neurology. However, to have the greatest impact advocating for our profession we must work with these other organizations. Two years ago, a Child Neurology working group was formed that includes representatives from CNS, AAN, AAP, PCN, and CNF with a goal of coordinating our efforts to assure that the professional needs of child neurologists are supported.
A third priority is to expand programming at the Annual Meeting and between meetings for our junior members. They are the future of our profession. In my view, the Child Neurology Society has a responsibility to provide career-development support and mentoring in a broader context than is available at individual institutions. We will work to implement a “junior member track” with activities on each day of the Annual Meeting targeted at junior members.
I am excited about the Child Neurology Society and opportunities to continue and enhance our role as a professional society in advancing education, research, clinical care, and career satisfaction. I am proud to have been part of the CNS for over 25 years and look forward to working with all of you over the next two years.