Letter from the chair

May 5, 2011


The Neuro-Infectious Disease Section of the American Academy of Neurology continues to provide leadership to assure that this critical aspect of neurology is taught to trainees entering neurology, and that the emerging challenges of this area are updated for the membership of the academy as a whole at the annual meeting. The annual meeting in May 2012 held in New Orleans had a liberal representation that included three poster sessions, two platform sessions, and a fine "Highlights in the Field" review in addition to the section meeting. Furthermore, two courses focusing on the area had excellent attendance and enthusiastic participation. Planning is already underway for the next meeting, to be held in San Diego March 16-23, 2013.

At the annual meeting the group recognized the outstanding leadership that Dr. Avi Nath has provided as Chair of the section over the past three years. Membership has steadily increased in recent years, and the section has contributed broadly to the academy. Working groups have addressed diagnostic challenges of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy and assisted in development of guidelines for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. At the meeting the results of leadership elections were announced. Dr. Russell Bartt will serve as Vice Chair and Dr. Joseph Zunt was re-elected for another term as Councilor.

One of the vital parts of neuro-infectious diseases is the high level of importance of these conditions globally. While frequency and importance of infectious complications is certainly prevalent in US practices, globally these are often the areas of medicine where interventions could have the greatest impact. Linking knowledge and resources emerging from laboratories to the worldwide problems of infections, and training professionals to be part of that process is certainly a high priority for neurology. Our medical students and residents commonly recognize this, and are seeking opportunities to participate in global medicine. As a section, I believe we have the opportunity to accelerate this promising front in neurology. Dr. Zunt reported at the conference on opportunities for support to fellows with these interests through the Global Health Fellow Program. Members of the section who identify people seeking opportunities in global health training should discuss this with Dr. Zunt. Sharing the diverse initiatives and experiences in this area is likely to be a highly productive area for NID section.

An important initiative now underway is the development of an endowment to support a Young Investigator Award. Our section is working with the academy development office to establish funding for an endowment that would provide funds to encourage those entering our specialty. Contributions for the fund are sought from section members and friends of the section. Grateful patients, as well as other groups that care about neuro-infectious disease problems, should consider donations to this important fund.

The Neuro-Infectious Disease Section exists to serve its membership. Our website provides easy group-wide communications, as well as links to many resources to support education in this discipline. I look forward to a vital collaboration of the membership as we seek to develop this important area of neurology.

David B. Clifford, MD
Washington University in St. Louis