Dear CNS Special Interest Group (SIG) members:

In 2016 and 2017 we experimented with CME programming, supplementing the Scientific Program of sessions proposed by individual members and selected by the Scientific Program Committee with four additional CME sessions organized by Special Interest Groups (SIGs). While the content presented in the SIG-organized CME sessions was generally well received, many questioned whether, alongside the multiple other CME options, they were really necessary.  In other words, does adding CME programming offset the loss of meaningful networking opportunities with like-minded colleagues that formation of Special Interest Groups was originally intended to address? 

Of particular concern was the question of whether SIG-activities wholly given over to delivering educational content resulted in a lost opportunity to reach out to younger child neurologists, Junior Members and Medical Students in particular. There was concern about both elimination of networking opportunities SIG meetings used to provide, and direct competition with and diminishing attendance at poster sessions.  Many younger members present research at the poster sessions and hope to enter into dialogue with like-minded colleagues both older and younger.

We are not abandoning, much less writing off as a failed experiment, SIG-organized CME programming. Not at all. Instead, we are seizing an opportunity that the meeting space at the Hyatt Regency Chicago affords to experiment with alternate formats, one or both of which might work well in the slightly different framework we will use in San Diego in 2020 when the CNS meets jointly with the International Child Neurology Association (ICNA). The experimental formats we will use this year, and perhaps future years, include:
1) Meet the Experts
2) Guided Poster Tours
3) Best of Show

These formats are familiar to many of you from other meetings you attend. Sometimes they work well, sometimes not. With your input now and your active participation at the meeting, we hope that they work very well, resulting in growing numbers and energy levels in those SIGs participating in the experiment.

Here’s how things will work:

1.   Meet the Expert.
You may choose to identify and feature a single expert to present a brief overview of her/his work in the special-interest area followed by a Q&A session (perhaps facilitated by a smart-phone based automatic response system). Or perhaps you might go with a dialogue format involving two or three experts, followed by Q&A.  A SIG may opt for an “Ask the Expert” session where people could bring cases, ask questions, obtain advice, etc. It’s up to you to decide and propose. Three 45-minute sessions will be selected for presentation (on Tuesday, October 16) from among proposals submitted by SIGs on-line between May 4-31. The three sessions will follow the morning Presidential Symposium and precede the lunchtime review of posters.

2.   Guided Poster Tours.
As always, the Scientific Program Committee will review and select the 140-175 abstracts to be presented at the annual meeting. Up to three Guided Poster Tours will be scheduled during the three scheduled poster review periods:
1) Tuesday w/ lunch
2) Tuesday afternoon w/ wine & cheese
3) Wednesday w/ breakfast.

A roster of abstracts selected will be made available to SIGs beginning July 1. Each SIG will be asked to identify 1 or 2 engaging moderators to lead a group of 12-20 people on a 30-45 minute tour of posters in their Special Interest area, stopping at 3-6 posters to engage pre-selected authors in conversation about their work. Selection of tour guides and posters to be highlighted on the tour is up to each SIG. Final selection of posters to be included on the tour will be based on review of posters uploaded to the meeting app and on-line poster site (as pdf files) by October 1. This is a great opportunity for medical students, residents, and training programs to highlight their research, network with CNS members with shared interests, and seed future collaborative projects and SIG activities.

3.   Best of Show 
In addition to the four Outstanding Junior Member Awards annually presented, Junior members (residents and/or med students) will have a second high-profile venue for showcasing their work in Chicago: The first-time-ever "Best of Show" session during the Wednesday lunch break will spotlight Junior Member authors of the best posters presented, with a 3-slide summary of work presented followed by a 5-minute moderated Q&A. Preliminary selection of featured authors and posters by the Scientific Program Committee and a panel of SIG members will take place before the meeting of all posters uploaded online & on meeting app by October 1. The 75-minute moderated “Best of Show” lunch-time session will run from 12:30 - 1:45 on Wednesday.

SIGs will also have the option of holding 30-minute networking/organizational meetings in tandem with Meet the Expert sessions and Guided Poster Tours. Up to four “dedicated” SIG meetings (ie, independent of Meet the Experts or Guided Poster Tours) may also be scheduled on Wednesday at lunch-time. The one drawback with this option is that it competes with the concurrent Best of Show session. 

It’s a busy meeting, and it seems to get busier every year. We will continue to experiment with new formats while we try to maximize high-value content and minimize the number of competing parallel sessions.


Erika Augustine, MD, PhD
Chair, CNS Scientific Program Committee

Jonathan Mink, MD, PhD
President, CNS