Bringing CNS Members Together to Make Children’s Lives Better


“We have come a long way together…”

By Phillip L. Pearl, MD | President, CNS

Phillip L. Pearl, MD | President, CNS
Phillip L. Pearl, MD President, CNS

“Fall arrived at last. Order returns to the universe. A new school year, autumn leaves, the CNS meeting! We’ve come so far since last year in Charlotte!”

“Come so far?! This bleak year has been a mess. The worst pandemic in a century. And we haven’t gone anywhere. I’m doing this meeting from home!”

“Yes…I hear you…” 

Our annual rite-of-fall pilgrimage to the CNS meeting feels very different this year, as has the rest of life. But we have come a long way together. In the stillness of the early stages of COVID-19, as society grounded to a veritable halt, the CNS sprang into action. Early steps focused on ethical challenges, especially the allocation of limited resources and importance of not squandering them or delivering disproportionate care, and our Ethics committee was at the forefront (Graf et al 2020). We pivoted to assembling a toolkit for telemedicine, and later provided resources to help gradually and safely reopen practices, with special thanks to our Telemedicine task force and Practice Committee. We were compelled to recommend new guidelines for the evaluation and treatment of one of our distinct populations, children with infantile spasms, and again turned to the Practice Committee, which collaborated closely with the Pediatric Epilepsy Research Consortium (Grinspan et al 2020a, b). The Research Committee focused on prioritizing research goals at the call of NINDS, with revisions predicated upon the pandemic (Bonkowsky et al, in submission). And as social unrest unfolded in some of our country’s darkest moments, we responded with genuineness and resolve (Pearl et al 2020), expanding our original pledge in October 2019 to appoint a diversity officer to forming a task force commissioned to explore and design a Diversity and Leadership Development Program that would complement and build on programming offered by the AAN and AES, among others. These are just a few selected areas that have compelled focused attention and action within the CNS throughout the year.

As we gather together for this International Child Neurology Conference, however virtual, I would like to point out some special features and events of interest to all. Jon Mink and the Scientific Program Planning Committee have assembled a breathtaking array of sessions covering an astonishing breadth and depth of topics in pediatric neurology. We continue to feature robust ancillary programming, including the Neurobiology of Disease in Childhood Symposium organized by Bernie Maria, the Child Neurology Foundation symposium which this year will cover the diagnostic odyssey in genetic testing, and the 5th Annual Jack Pellock Residents Seminar on Epilepsy for senior child neurology trainees. We are grateful for the support provided the Pellock Seminar through a five-year grant from the Pediatric Epilepsy Research Foundation (PERF). As the host for this year’s international congress, we are pleased to offer a special education and entertainment series on American Creativity, Ingenuity and Diversity; for more on that, see pages 28.

My fervent hope is that you sample the many offerings made available during this two week virtual conference thanks to the extraordinary efforts by our national office staff. Special thanks are owed to Executive Director Roger Larson, Associate Director Sue Hussman, the ever friendly, everreliable Kathy Pavel and Emily McConnell, and this year’s contracted videographer responsible for capturing nearly 300 symposia presentations, Richard Kearney.

Beyond this year’s challenging but promising conference, other activities continue. We successfully renegotiated a contract to continue offering the Annals of Neurology as our societal journal in partnership with the American Neurological Association, with online access expanded to include CNS members of all categories (only Active Members previously received the print journal). The ANA has been a strong partner in publishing content that is very germane to child neurology and developmental neuroscience. A recent search has been initiated for a new rotation for the Editorin- Chief position, and interested persons are encouraged to inquire: chief-job-description.

CNS committees are already setting ambitious agendas for the next year as is the CNS Executive Committee with four newly elected officers: Bruce Cohen – President Elect, Lori Jordan – Secretary-Treasurer, and new Councillors Audrey Brumback and Sonia Partap. While Bruce and Lori move up from previous positions on the Board as Secretary-treasurer and Councillor for the South, we will miss the passion and Child Neurology Society | Fall 2020 5 perspective of two board members rotating off, without whom the momentum and accomplishments of this past year would not have been possible: Past-President Jonathan Mink and Councillor for the West Mark Wainwright.

We are eagerly looking forward to gathering together next fall for our 50th/Golden Anniversary meeting in Boston. We will pay homage to our first fifty years while also looking forward. To that end, Steve Ashwal is working feverishly on a second edition of the Founders of Child Neurology book first published in 1989; this will be expanded into the Founding, Evolution, and Development of Child Neurology with updates covering seminal figures shaping the 2nd half of 20th Century. The very recent loss of CNS Founder and First President Ken Swaiman has led to many members of the society sending Steve and Phyllis Sher, CNS member and Ken’s widow, stories about their contact with Dr. Swaiman as a colleague, mentor, teacher, and friend. If you would like to send a personal story, please do so to either Phyllis ( or Steve (; they would appreciate your thoughts.

And in time we will roll out the exciting new ventures in place to engage our membership, recruit trainees and junior members, reinvigorate careers at all levels, and bring the best of pediatric neuroscience to all of us.

Enjoy the conference!

Phillip L. Pearl, M.D.
President, Child Neurology Society
Director of Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology
William G. Lennox Chair, Department of Neurology
Boston Children’s Hospital
Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Music and Health Institute, Berklee College of Music


Graf WD, Epstein LG, Pearl PL: Practical Bioethics during the Exceptional Circumstances of a Pandemic. Pediatr Neurol 2020; 108:3-4.

Grinspan ZM, Mytinger JR, Baumer FM, et al. Management of Infantile Spasms During the COVID-19 Pandemic. J Child Neurol 2020a; 35:828-34.

Grinspan ZM, Mytinger JR, Baumer FM, et al. Crisis Standard of Care: Management of Infantile Spasms during COVID-19. Ann Neurol 2020b; 22:215-7.

Pearl PL, Mink JW, Cohen BH, et al. The President, Past President, Executive Director, and the Board of the Child Neurology Society Denounce Racism and Inequality. Ann Neurol 2020; 22:209-10.