By Panayiotis (Panos) N. Varelas, MD, PhD, FAAN, FNCS
A Stronger, Better NCS
Dear NCS Members,
As your 14th President, I want to look at the past accomplishments of the Society. It was not so long ago in that inaugural meeting in Phoenix that the Society took a bones-and-flesh form. I still vividly remember going out in the open hotel terrace and talking to this small group of not more than 200 people about what we envisioned for NCS. I remember the excitement! Since then, a lot of water has run down the river: the Society has grown to more than 2,800 members. It is an inclusive and international society that has its own journal. Most recently, it has sailed into two uncharted waters — Curing Coma® and the Neurocritical Care Foundation — amidst a pandemic that would test any ship. It is not the Society from that first meeting in Phoenix or the Society during my first board term. It’s not even the Society it was when I became an officer. Through different times and different challenges, we became a stronger, better NCS!
By the time you read this, we will have completed the Annual Meeting, our core NCS activity, as our first-ever hybrid meeting. This is the herald for more to come, a new technological and sociological reality that the pandemic unearthed and accelerated.
But it is not the Annual Meeting that I want to talk about. Each President of the Society has the same goal — to preserve and grow the Society and represent it to the world. Each one of my predecessors had a vision for NCS and planned to reach specific objectives to leave a legacy. We became who we are now because of the farsightedness of some extraordinary leaders who have placed the bar high for me and those officers who follow me. Although these goals may change during the ensuing months, let me share what I’d like to pursue:
- Invigorate and expand our relationship with organized neurosurgery and invite more surgeons to join NCS and feel at home here. These are the colleagues we interact with in the NICU. We take care of their patients every day. It is disingenuous to believe we really are a multidisciplinary society with so few of them as members. We need to widen the channels of communication with the Congress and the AANS, those that Wade has already excavated this past year.
- Support the Neurocritical Care Foundation to stand on its feet and start walking independently. This is crucial for our branding and our funding for research and education in an unseen macroscale.
- Continue supporting the Curing Coma Campaign. This is a grand project in its scope and breadth. It will certainly increase our branding and lead to new paradigms of prognostication and management that will only benefit patients and families.
- Add the second-largest continent, which is not yet well represented, to our Global Partners: Africa, the cradle of humankind. Although resources may be scarce in its mostly developing countries, it is indeed in those countries that a small, NCS-promoted change may have an enormous impact.
All these noble goals will be never achieved without you, the members of NCS, and without our partners at Smithbucklin. In my very first address in the month of Thanksgiving, know that those of you who put your efforts in motion to keep this society alive and thriving have all my gratitude. NCS membership should bring you value and, beyond that, you should all feel that this is your home. A place where you can freely and respectfully exchange your ideas and a place you care for. A society where opportunities and promotion to leadership is not based on your degree, gender or age, but is based on merit and willingness to participate. These very NCS values are reflected in each of you. I came to this country 27 years ago without any friends or relatives, and now I speak to you as your President, colleague and friend.
As an epilogue every month, I’ll use one of my favorite quotes by the ancients. You will see that nothing has changed despite the millennia passing by. They stand to the winds of change. This month’s is from Democritus, the father of the atomic theory: “Ανδρί σοφώ πάσα γη βατή. Ψυχής γαρ αγαθής πατρίς ο ξύμπας κόσμος.” “For the wise man, every earth is passable/reachable. Because the homeland of the good soul is the whole world.”
Panayiotis (Panos) N. Varelas, MD, PhD, FAAN, FNCS
President, NCS Board of Directors
Professor of Neurology and Chairman, Department of Neurology
Albany Medical College