It is hard to believe, with spring having barely arrived, that preparations are well underway for the annual fall meeting in Pittsburgh scheduled in mid-October. Final ACCME approval of the scientific program, followed by distribution of registration information via regular mail and on-line registration for the meeting will all unfold over the course of the next month. This year’s meeting offers an exciting scientific program in what truly is an exciting venue. As everyone who has been to Pittsburgh in recent years knows, it is a remarkably vibrant and inviting “renaissance city,” much different than the city you may remember or may only have read about from decades ago. A hearty round of applause goes out to Mary Curry and Roger Larson for the very extensive and largely invisible preparatory work they perform year-round to ensure the success of this and every CNS annual meeting. Mary’s comprehensive oversight of the annual meeting goes back to the very first gathering in Ann Arbor in 1972. Roger’s work with the scientific program committee and with exhibitors dates back to the Halifax meeting in 1988. With next year’s meeting set for Quebec City and the following year scheduled to be held in Santa Clara, they are currently setting their sights on the 2009 meeting, all the while maintaining their focus on the innumerable background details requiring immediate attention to ensure the success of this year’s meeting, a meeting first envisioned three or four years ago.
There are, of course, a number of others working hard behind the scenes this year and every year. Foremost among these are the CNS Awards Committee, chaired this year by Philip Pearl, and charged with selecting the Sachs, Hower, and Young Investigator Award recipients, and the Scientific Selection Committee, chaired by Gary Clark. Gary’s appointment, like each of his predecessor’s, is for two years. The two year rotation of chairs on this committee, bolstered by the extraordinary multi-year commitment and collective wisdom afforded by its 12-14 committee members, strikes a much needed balance of continuity and originality. Gary’s two-year appointment gives him the creative license and flexibility to design an educational curriculum on a larger canvas than one year would afford; what can’t be scheduled this year in a tight three-day framework can be planned for the following year; breakfast seminars that “show” well this year, based on attendance and survey feedback may “grow” into a full scientific symposium next year; ideas generated by the many Special Interest Group meetings scheduled during the annual meeting may be pitched to the Scientific Program Chair and/or Committee on-site or in correspondence soon after; well-thought out and clearly articulated suggestions entered in the post-meeting on- line survey regarding prospective sessions or speakers may spark a “conversation” that bears fruit, if not the next year, then in subsequent years as Gary passes on to his successors the resources and insights gained from two years on the front line.
The goal, for Gary and for his committee, is to weave a coherent program choreographing some of the best new work being done on the bench top with the best new practices being developed and offered to our patients in the exam room and at bedside. As any past chair of the committee can attest, this is a truly daunting and draining responsibility, all the more so given the growing diversity of sub-specialty interests within our subspecialty of child neurology. Recognizing this growing diversity of interests and needs, and the limited framework the annual meeting provides to meet them, we are moving toward development of a program committee with a better balance of representation from the full spectrum of “bench top” to private practice neurologists that make up the Society’s membership. This, along with the splendid opportunity afforded attendees to review the 150+ abstracts selected from the roughly 250+ abstracts submitted each year, will ensure the continued vitality of the CNS Annual Meeting.
Quickly, on a separate topic: in my last letter I discussed work done by representatives of the CNS and the CNF to clarify their relationship and move toward bringing the two entities and their separate but complimentary missions closer together. This is an important and attainable goal for the next two years. Under the sage direction of Carl Crosley, a task force meeting in Chicago earlier this month made significant progress toward meeting this goal.
Ann H. Tilton, MD