Bringing CNS Members Together to Make Children’s Lives Better


Letter from the Presidents

By Phillip L. Pearl MD, President | Bruce H. Cohen MD, President-Elect

Phillip L. Pearl, MD
Phillip L. Pearl MD, President

CNS Executive Director Roger B. Larson told us today during our weekly e-meeting that he was reviewing CNS website video-recordings and heard an especially insightful and prescient statement from the first president, Ken Swaiman, in conversation with fellow “old lions,” Paul Rosman and Dean Timmons: “The best way to keep a society going is to pretend it’s been going for fifty years before.”

Well, there is no further need to pretend. Our first leaders were visionaries and we are here as an organization to celebrate the accomplishments of the last half-century. We are fast approaching our 50th anniversary meeting, and the enthusiasm is building. Over 900 have registered to come to Boston already, and we hope conditions will reverse and improve sufficiently by the last week in September to encourage more to make a last-minute decision to join us as we celebrate our tailored theme for 2021: The CNS at 50 – Past, Present, and Future.

The Kenneth F. Swaiman Legacy Luncheon will honor great contributors to the field and the Society, and a chance to celebrate the release of a new book: Child Neurology: Its Origins, Founders, Growth, and Evolution. As with the first edition of The Founders and multiple editions of the Swaiman text, Steve Ashwal (our 21st President) has splendidly and meticulously added 138 new biosketches to the original 124, along with a new section featuring 14 masterful overviews, with many authors contributing. And in an undeniable once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Professor Shaul Harel, recipient of the 2011 CNS Gold Humanism Award and Past President of the International Child Neurology Association (ICNA), will travel to Boston along with his wife, Dalia, on the occasion of the translation into English of his biography, A Child without a Shadow. Purchase your copy NOW (it is available on and have him sign it in Boston. No story could be more poignant or profound to a pediatric neurologist than that of a child orphaned by the Holocaust rising to become the founder of child neurology in the state of Israel. There will be numerous presentations during the luncheon, but simply being in the room, filled with our founders in body and spirit, will be the professional thrill of a lifetime. If you are able to travel to Boston, you will not want to miss this event.

Bruce H. Cohen MD, President-Elect

There will be great symposia and seminars, all topical and timely, from COVID-19 Neurology to Neurocritical Care, Developmental Epilepsy, Neurogenetics, and more. A Neuro-Humanism seminar, New England Music & Muses, will feature a fitting prelude to the meeting, with David Urion teaming up again with Phillip Pearl (our 30th President) to offer musical-literary pairings captured on film from a studio in Cambridge, MA along with a Berklee College of Music faculty ensemble. There will be a CNF symposium on the diagnostic odyssey, a clinical research workshop, thanks to the CNS Research Committee working in tandem with the CNF, and splendid social events. The CNS meeting is designed to combine scientific and social opportunities as, after all, everyone needs (a) society and this is the one for pediatric neurology.

This joint CNS Connections Letter from the Presidents presages the meeting and the transition from the current president to the president-elect. Over the last 10 months the two of us have been meeting with Roger Larson on a weekly basis, if not more, planning this meeting and the many activities of the CNS and its interrelationships with other societies, most notably the AAN, with common ground and support statements, and the ANA with the co-publication of the Annals. We also have made strides with planning for a new Annals journal focusing on Child Neurology and look forward to reporting on more progress in the near future. The CNS has successfully launched the Leadership, Diversity, and Equity task force under the guidance of Rujuta Bhatt Wilson and Executive Board members Audrey Brumback and Nancy Bass, with an editorial describing this further in this month’s issue of the Annals.

There is no field in medicine more focused on the health and well-being of vulnerable humans than pediatric neurology. We look forward to kicking off our 50th year as the primary professional association of pediatric neurologists as we enter a revolutionary hope-filled era of promising targeted therapies benefiting our patients even as the world grapples with the continuing pandemic, economic uncertainty, health care disparities, and recurring challenges of racism, prejudice, and bias. As we stated in the August 2020 Annals editorial on institutional racism, the CNS must model a possible solution for these moral vices and we must continue our work together.

Much of the history of our society has been touched on by Roger Larson in our A through Z daily briefings – and we hope you are enjoying reading this history in a new literary form. Roger calls these “muses” but he is a brilliant author and has served as our Executive Director for the last nine years with nearly 40 years of involvement with the CNS. His reflections offer an account of our history that few can match.

We are looking forward to a splendid meeting this year, whether you will join us masked and in person, or virtually, as we carry the Society forward into the next fifty years.