Past President's Message

November 2017

Dear Colleagues,

With the recent launch of the ANA Memory Bank, showcasing 142 years of American Neurological Association history, I am both proud and humbled to be part of an organization whose members led the field of academic neurology and neuroscience and paved the way for our own contributions and advancements toward cure, prevention, and palliation of disorders of the brain and nervous system.

As the conclusion of this year's Annual Meeting marked the end of my term as president of the ANA, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the strong progress we have made together over the past two years.

One of my priorities when I assumed this role was to expand inclusiveness in the ANA and build awareness of the benefits it offers to members at all career stages. A network of opportunities for professional growth is essential for all of us, but particularly for those getting started. We therefore created new membership categories in the ANA for students, residents, fellows and post-docs.

Broadening the ANA to include early career members then spurred exciting new initiatives and enhancements to our Annual Meeting. The addition of poster judging and awards to the program enables new researchers to receive feedback on their work; added data blitz sessions during the plenary symposia highlight the scientific contributions of young investigators; the expansion of travel awards allows more early career-stage members to reap the benefits of attending the meeting; and the addition of morning career development programming enriches their knowledge and skills in navigating and succeeding in a career in academic neurology.

One attribute of the ANA that sets it apart from other professional organizations is the accessibility and engagement of its leadership and senior members, and we worked diligently to augment this asset at the Annual Meetings and throughout the year. To this end, we reintroduced the New Members Meet and Greet session at this year's Annual Meeting, in addition to the poster judging. We also launched MentorLink, the e-mentoring platform of the ANA that facilitates the establishment of fruitful mentor/mentee relationships. I am pleased that our senior members have stepped up to offer guidance to trainees as they chart their careers in academic neurology.

In addition to growing the ANA's distinction in the academic neurology community in North America, we brought significant attention to translational neuroscience research and research training in developing countries by spotlighting this topic and clinician-investigators who have built research programs in this area during this year's Presidential Symposium.  We also held a lunch workshop on opportunities for funding for global neurology research through the NIH Fogarty International Center and NINDS, as well as a trainee course on academic career paths in global health for neurologists.  Beyond the Annual meeting, we established and awarded two International Outreach Scholarships, through which we are engaging young neurologists in an in-depth, mentored learning experience involving research, education, and clinical care in under-resourced settings.

Our widely-recognized journals, Annals of Neurology and Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology (ACTN), maintained the ANA's commitment to innovation in elevating the highest caliber work in our field. This year, both Annals and ACTN received high-ranking impact factors, figures based on citations in 2016 of papers published in these journals in 2014 and 2015. The ANA, and its publisher Wiley, also launched InterACTN,a series of patient cases that allows users to read a case history, make treatment decisions, and obtain expert feedback. We take pride in the continued scientific contributions of our journals' authors across a broad array of neurologic disciplines.

All the while, we have remained devoted to our responsibility to represent our members' and our patients' interests with a strong policy voice. When cuts to NIH research budgets were on the horizon, we worked with partner organizations and added our own voice to ensure that lawmakers understood the importance of neuroscience research to the millions of people suffering from neurological disease worldwide.

None of these initiatives could have been accomplished without excellent teamwork. I would like to thank Immediate Past President Robert H. Brown, Jr.; Vice President Craig Blackstone, and everyone else on the Executive Leadership team and the Board of Directors for their support as I transitioned into this role and beyond. In addition, the hard work and dedication of our Executive Director, Nadine Goldberg, was crucial to the success of the many initiatives we have undertaken as an organization. I also thank the ANA Scientific Program Advisory Committee and Chair Laura Ranum for their extraordinary commitment and enthusiasm, and for Laura's leadership in creating and assembling the last two ANA Annual Meeting programs to share the best our discipline has to offer.

Finally, I would like to extend my sincerest best wishes and support to David Holtzman, our new ANA president, as he takes the reins of our beloved organization. I am confident that under his leadership, our ANA "Memory Bank" will continue to grow with more milestone accomplishments that increase our understanding and reduce the burden of neurological diseases.  


Barbara G. Vickrey, MD, MPH 
Past President, American Neurological Association 
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai