December 2017


Dear ISPN members

There has never been a better time to be a pediatric neurosurgeon- and to be part of the ISPN!

The International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery is a wonderful organization- small enough for each of us to be able to establish lifelong friendships, but global in its vision. I am truly honoured to serve you as president of our society for the next year, and privileged to have the support of a diverse and talented Executive Board. Ultimately however, this is your society- and we share the common goal of striving to serve the neurosurgical needs of the world’s children.

I would like to use this opportunity to introduce our new Board to you, to give you a glimpse of what we have planned for 2018. You will see many of the portfolios now have a co-chair- a reflection not only of the increasing workload, but also our commitment to growing leadership across our specialty. We are fortunate to have colleagues who already hold senior leadership positions in major international societies willing to serve the ISPN, a testament to the high regard they have for our society. I cannot tell you how much we value that.

I have a very hard act to follow. We all owe William Harkness (London) our appreciation for a year of extraordinary service to the ISPN. Very few presidents in our long history have worked so effectively to broaden the reach of our society- technologically, financially, geographically and socially. I am delighted that he will remain involved not only as chair of the Nominating Committee, but also as ISPN ambassador to the Global Initiative for Children’s Surgery (GICS), with the intention of growing neurosurgical participation and leadership from across Developing Countries. Thank you William- your impact on the ISPN has been collosal!

William was very ably supported by Secretary Gianpiero Tamburrini (Rome) who happily for all of us remains in this position. Gianpiero has been an unsung hero of the ISPN for many years with so much of our progress due to his quietly efficient work. When you get an email from him, please take note. I would like to thank John Kestle (Salt Lake City) for going about the work of Treasurer in his typically organized way, leaving us in very good shape financially and handing over the keys of the safe to Mike Handler (Denver). Wolfgang Wagner (Mainz) was deservedly voted in as president-elect and I look forward to planning our activities jointly with him.

The Annual Meeting is without doubt our most important event, an opportunity to get together in a lovely place, meet old friends and make new friends, and contribute to the knowledge and skills that underpin our daily work.

Our 46th Annual Meeting in the magnificent Mike High City of Denver, USA did not disappoint- we enjoyed a program that reflected the scientific richness and myriad interests of our field, truly a world in one specialty. With sessions ranging from neuro-oncology, hydrocephalus and congenital disorders through spine, vascular and trauma to functional neurosurgery, the ISPN reflects progress across the full spectrum of modern neurosurgery.

Congratulations to Annual Meeting Chair Mike Handler (Denver), Scientific Chair Tony Figaji (Cape Town) and co-chair Francesco Sala (Verona) on a high quality meeting. Please let us know what worked and what we can do better next time when we meet in Tel Aviv, Israel under the leadership of Shlomi Constantini from 7-11 October 2018.

Once again, the scientific program will be in the hands of Tony and Francesco, and with the theme Innovation & Inspiration anything is possible! A special feature of this meeting is the effort being made to provide funding for delegates from Developing Countries. We live in a world where travel restrictions are sadly a reality affecting even scientific exchange and special consideration will be given to facilitate participation by those who are not able to attend the meeting.

Anyone looking at our fabulous website which was redesigned this year will appreciate the tremendous work done by Communications Chair Adrian Caceres (Costa Rica), now ably supported by Ash Singhal (Vancouver) and Ramiro Del Rio (Buenos Aires). Many exciting developments are afoot in this sphere, not least the ISPN App which premiered at the Denver meeting- watch this space for more developments!

One of the most impressive legacies of the ISPN is our long history of educational courses, now in the innovative hands of Federico Di Rocco (Lyon) and Sandip Chatterjee (Kolkata). With courses in places as diverse as Minsk (Belarus), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Cairo (Egypt), Shanghai (China) as well other meetings in Africa and Latin America in our sights, this promises to be another exciting year. Special attention will be paid to growing membership with each course, as well as embedding the ISPN App and The Guide in our courses.

New members are the lifeblood of the ISPN and this will be in the capable hands of Membership Chair Dong Seok-Kim (Seoul) assisted by Sergio Valenzuela (Santiago). While a special rate for members from Low/Middle Income Countries was introduced under the leadership of Graciela Zuccaro, uptake has been disappointing and we need to find ways to increase membership from all continents. Our membership process needs to be more streamlined and we will be looking at ways to do that over the coming year.

It doesn’t stop at simply signing up new members- we need to be sure we keep them, but I am confident our rapidly growing portfolio of activities will have something to keep everyone interested.

As a modern, progressive organization, the ISPN is paying particular attention to Nursing and Allied Health Professionals- after all, this is the International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery (not Neurosurgeons) and we could not care for our patients effectively without the professionals who partner us at work. I am delighted to welcome Lindy May (London) as the first AHP representative on the EB!

A modern organization needs to be responsive to changing needs, but this must happen within the context of proper constitutional processes and we are fortunate to have Chidu Balasubramaniam (Chennai), assisted by Hiroaki Sakamoto (Osaka), who also serves as JSPN president, undertaking a thorough review of our Constitution and Bylaws.

Building bridges with other organisations is the task of the Liaison Committee, until recently under the dynamic leadership of Guirish Solanki and I would like to thank him for the gusto with which he took this on. Zulma Tovar-Spinoza (Syracuse), assisted by co-chair Nelci Zanon (Sao Paulo) are already building on this foundation and I look forward to an era of unprecedented international co-operation thanks to their efforts.

One of the more obscure portfolios is Ways and Means, which deals with funding support for our various activities. Thanks to the generosity of the ISPN in making numerous scholarships available this has become a large portfolio and I am grateful to Martina Messing-Junger (Sankt Augustin), who amazingly finds time to do this despite being ESPN president as well.

It is hard to think of colleagues better suited than Wan Tew Seow (Singapore) to hold our Ethics and Morals portfolio, and former AANS president Rick Boop (Memphis) to chair our Audit subcommittee.

Even in the electronic age, what is in print is what holds sway and Ezio Di Rocco (Rome) has continues to do an extraordinary job as editor-in-chief of Child’s Nervous System– the favourite journal of every pediatric neurosurgeon.

The ISPN has also strongly supported the educational vision elucidated by Rick Abbott (New York) in his 2008 presidential address where he proposed on online textbook, which you will all know as The Guide. We owe Rick a massive debt of gratitude for the thousands (yes, thousands) of hours he has put into this, building an excellent team of editors and contributors. Let us redouble our efforts to see this a comprehensive work by the time we have our 2018 meeting.

We will lean heavily on Tad Tomita (Chicago) as our Historian as we build towards our 50th anniversary at our 2022 annual meeting- the process for selecting a venue will be announced soon!

On the professional front, we enjoy a steadily growing relationship with Kenes who ran our meetings in Izmir and Denver, and will do so again in Tel Aviv and Birmingham. This has been strengthened to include association management with input from professionals of the caliber of Louise Gorringe, Sadik Cagler and Mojca Rodic.

Finally, I am writing this overlooking the Nile as the early morning call to prayer drifts peacefully through the air. Being in such an ancient land underlines how strongly we are united by our long history and common humanity and how much we have to gain if we could only transcend divisions inflicted by intolerant and uninformed leaders. International societies like the ISPN are one of the best ways we can do that.

May you all enjoy a peaceful and blessed festive season in the company of those you love, and return refreshed and ready for the challenges and opportunities we will enjoy in 2018.

With warm regards

Graham Fieggen

ISPN President 2018