There is one thing at which I am definitely not very good. That is staying inside of a box with a conventional label. “Pediatrician”, “neurologist”, “child neurologist”, “neuroscientist” – each implies mastery, exploration, and practice of a specifically-defined discipline and diagnosis and treatment of a specific set of disorders. I always seem to be in the cracks between the fields and the diagnoses. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Organ systems, cell types, and molecular pathways don’t come in discretely assigned bundles. Whole people integrate all of these components and processes into a unified, multifunctional entity. Where else could anyone want to be than in the interstices at which the parts combine to make a greater-than-summative whole?
The program for the 43rd Annual Meeting of our Child Neurology Society reflects this excitement at the interfaces. As you listen to the talks and participate in the discussions, you may find yourself thinking “PM&R” or “cell biology” or even “philology”. But this is the joy of being among child neurologists, each of whom combines the diverse components into a completely unique whole and sits comfortably at a different interface. Because the brain is a conductor, every member of the orchestra reflects its function. Because the spinal cord is a crossroads and switchboard, every signal must traverse its territory and get transformed. And we, the lucky purveyors of these components and more, call every aspect of medicine and science and sociology our home and paint with every one of these hues on our collective brushes.
So what holds us together? Why does every Child Neurology Society meeting feel like a family reunion? It is our dedication to and advocacy for our charges. Our patients and their families; our students; our trainees and junior colleagues drive all of us and unite us in the mission and vision of child neurology – the understanding and conquest of disorders of the developing nervous system. There is no greater testimony to this than the singular legacy we leave from this meeting forward – the endowment of our Philip R. Dodge Young Investigator Award. A united effort of the Child Neurology Society, the Child Neurology Foundation, the Pediatric Epilepsy Research Foundation, corporations, academic institutions, individuals all working together to honor the past, solidify the present, and ensure the future for children with neurological disease and the people whose work makes their lives safer, healthier, and better. Now that’s a whole vastly greater than the sum of its parts!