San Diego in October:
To Be or Not to Be?
A Letter from CNS Executive Director, Roger Larson
The "theme" for this year's long anticipated joint CNS-ICNA meeting in San Diego-- "Sharing Knowledge, Sowing Friendships, Spreading Hope "--is timeless. The times we are now living through, however, make it seem as though it came from another time altogether.

Every day someone writes to me asking, "What is happening with the joint CNS-ICNA Congress? Are we still meeting in San Diego in October?" Mindful of our theme, all I can tell them is "I hope so."

That may change next week, however. Or the week after. Like many of you, I received word this afternoon that the American Neurological Association's meeting, originally scheduled in Los Angeles two weeks before ours, was "going virtual." That may well be a portent of our future. Or maybe not. Not to minimize the excellence and importance of ANA Annual Meetings, but this year's meeting is, in a sense, "just" another ANA Annual Meeting. If, in that same vein, this year's meeting in San Diego was "just" another CNS Annual Meeting, we might already have made the same decision the ANA did, ie, to "go virtual."

But it's not "just" another CNS Annual Meeting. We have waited so long to co-host a joint "congress" with our global partners, the International Child Neurology Association--a full generation, going back to San Francisco in 1994--that giving up hope too soon, before there is simply no more reason to hope, just seems wrong. So, let's wait awhile longer. Not much longer, but a while.

Three factors will determine the manner in which we gather this fall, whether it be seaside in San Diego or onscreen at home:
  1. The conference center's ability to safely host the congress in keeping with California statutes and regulations in place this fall
  2. Challenges confronting ICNA members seeking safe transit to and from the US
  3. Travel restrictions placed on child neurologists in the US by their institutions due to health concerns, budgetary constraints or other considerations
The second and third factors will significantly impact how many CNS and ICNA members will be able to meet in October; the first will dictate whether a live meeting in San Diego can be held at all. Shadowing those prospects are the conditions outlined on Tuesday by California Governor Gavin Newsom wherein achieving Stage 4, including the opening up of convention centers, would be a matter of months, not weeks, and would only happen once treatments or a vaccine were developed and widely available.
So, for now, let's assume the following two options, carefully considered by the CNS Executive Board, are what's on the table:
  1. A Hybrid Live/Virtual Meeting. Until we hear otherwise from the State of California, we will continue to hold out hope that a smaller-than-originally-anticipated but still sizeable cohort of child neurologists will gather in San Diego and interact virtually with friends, old and new, participating on-line from home.
  2. A Virtual Meeting. If, for reasons out of our control, we can't meet seaside, we will meet onscreen in October, accessing and sharing many of the same benefits, albeit at extreme social distance, that we have long looked forward to, including:
  • The same lineup of CME-accredited plenary lectures, symposia, seminars, workshops, meet-the-expert sessions and posters (more than 750!).
  • The same lineup of long-time and first-time exhibitors available interactively in a virtual exhibit hall.
  • The same invaluable core of corporate partners who have so generously supported past CNS meetings and ICNA congresses and who will do with and for us this year what partners always do in moments of crisis and uncertainty: actively support and generously fund our collective efforts to "share knowledge, sow friendships, and spread hope."

Above all else: don't get anxious about registration or hotel reservations. You have more pressing things to attend to right now. When we're ready to open registration later this spring for either of the two options listed above, we will let you know. Early registration deadlines will be extended, cancellation policies will be relaxed.

Until then, I wish you, your family, friends and colleagues good health in body, mind and spirit. As always, feel free to email me or members of the CNS National Office staff with questions or concerns.