Charles Dickens definitely had it right. These are the “best of times”; these are the “worst of times”. On the one hand, never before have we had such an extensive array of accessible methods through which to diagnose, explain, treat, and prevent developmental disorders of the nervous system. We can see, detect, transform, and augment neurological structure and function. We can talk with patients and families about the interaction between their innate characteristics and the environmental modulators that surround them. The molecular crystal ball with which we gauge prognosis is getting bigger and more accurate. And the tools for preventing and changing what was once inevitable grow more robust virtually daily. How did we get here? Through a process that, alas, is being thwarted as “inefficient” and too distant and disengaged from the proximate doctor- or nurse-patient interaction. So as our biomedical armamentarium becomes more effective and more accurately targeted, so, too, do the finances available with which to continue the trajectory to the point of deployment and operationalization shrink and dry up.
So what can we, the Child Neurology Society, do about it? In the long-term, we must stop the selling of a bill of goods to the public. The notion that science happens in a straight line, that efficient and narrow is best or even possible when it comes to biomedical research, that the connection between finding and application can be unambiguously predicted or anticipated is a false and dangerous notion. We must disabuse the public of what seem understandably to them like promises we have not kept.
But changing that culture will take time. There is something you and we can do right now. And that is to ensure that the pipeline filled with promising, innovative, dedicated young physician-scientists does not dry up. How, you ask? Just look at the accomplishments of those the Child Neurology Society has designated awardees of the Philip R. Dodge, MD Young Investigator Award. Look at their trainees and students. This is the history of innovation in child neurology and the key for our patients and their families – past, present, and, if you make it happen, future. You will read in the pages that follow about a challenge to members of the Child Neurology Society to collectively contribute $100,000 by the meeting in Columbus, OH. All it will take to completely endow the Philip R. Dodge, MD Young Investigator Award in perpetuity is for each member of the Child Neurology Society to contribute $100 or more to this endowment. The rest will be done by the Pediatric Epilepsy Research Foundation (PERF), because they, like we, believe the quest must not stop and because they know, as do I, that we will do this. For child neurology, for our successors in research, for our patients, and for their families – we will do this. I thank you in advance for doing what you have always done for the people and mission the Child Neurology Society serves – giving your all and doing the very best you can. And I look forward to celebrating our success and the generosity of the PERF together in Columbus!