Distinguished Lecturers

Speakers at the 2019 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting directly addressed the meeting theme, The Science of Practice, and shared individual insights and experiences.

Cushing Orator: Jim Yong Kim, MD, PhD


Dr. Kim spoke about his personal history and his involvement with the World Bank Group, which began with a critique of WBG that he helped edit and culminated in his serving as its president for six and one-half years. At the end of his talk, he articulated worldwide goals for neurosurgery. He believes a neurotrauma center should be no more than four hours from 80% of the population. He wants there to be one neurosurgeon per 200,000 people. He wants to see neurotrauma services embedded in surgical practices.

The Rhoton Family Lecture: Robert E. Harbaugh, MD, FAANS


Thanking the Rhoton family for the opportunity and the honor, Dr. Harbaugh’s lecture highlighted how his career has been devoted to the science of practice. From his collection of his own carotid endarterectomy cases, which grew to 2,000 consecutive cases and significantly impacted his own practice, to his efforts to steer organized neurosurgery’s early efforts toward specialty-wide data collection, he shared his belief that outcome, not compliance, defines success.

Louisa Eisenhardt Lecture: Maria Konnikova, PhD


Dr. Konnikova’s lecture, entitled The Scientific Method of the Mind: Mindfulness, Creativity and Critical Thinking Techniques from Sherlock Holmes, looked at ways of thinking and proposed ways to do it better. Dr. Konnikova, while drawing analogies to Holmes’ methods of detecting, reminded the audience that mindfulness is key to processing and saving memories, as is maintaining a sense of curiosity and satisfying one’s inner child. She concluded recommending we all strive to keep learning and that we should remember “the game is afoot.”

Kurze Lecture: Jaimie M. Henderson, MD, FAANS


Dr. Henderson’s lecture, Brain Machine Interface for Restoration of Communication and Motor Function, shared the latest research in the neural bases of speech. While we can’t yet repair damage to the central nervous system, his research is providing a way to greatly enhance the ability to communicate for those with neurological damage using an implanted brain-computer interface. As he concluded, “the future is exciting.”

Schneider Lecture: Robert J. Dempsey, MD, FAANS


Speaking on the the science of practice as it related to cerebrovascular surgery, Dr. Dempsey referred to this area as having “a future directed by patient need.” He stated his belief that patient need will drive practice, and the changes can only come through science. He posited the next generation will be tackling repairing brain injury, engaging in efforts that will be informed by all of the work that has gone on before.

Hunt-Wilson Lecture: David Ferrucci, PhD


Dr. Ferrucci, founder and CEO of Elemental Cognition, spoke on the topic of AI and Understanding. He discussed some of the challenges of AI, sharing the landmark that was Watson and its time on Jeopardy. He ended stating the current goal is to build AI that reads, reasons, understands and can explain its answers and its thinking.

Van Wagenen Lecture: Stephen J. Haines, MD, FAANS


Dr. Haines’ lecture, Neurosurgery’s March to Scientific Clinical Practice, provided a detailed overview of how the specialty has evolved into its current state, focusing on data’s affect on everyday practice.

Presidential Address: Shelly D. Timmons, MD, PhD, FAANS, FACS


Dr. Timmons addressed her meeting theme: The Science of Practice. Watch her address below.