Dear Friends and Colleagues:
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs
Harvey Cushing – the father of modern neurosurgery – developed surgical instruments, introduced diagnostic and surgical techniques and authored a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography. William P. Van Wagenen, who trained with Cushing, launched organized neurosurgery as the founder of the Harvey Cushing Society (now the AANS) and later established one of the most prestigious awards in neurosurgery, the Van Wagenen Fellowship. Following in Van Wagenen’s footsteps as President of the AANS, Albert L. Rhoton Jr., continued the legacy of innovation by developing hundreds of instruments and curating the Rhoton Collection®, one of the world’s greatest educational resources of neuroanatomical images.
Whether as inventors, authors, teachers or entrepreneurs, each of these physician leaders influenced thousands of neurosurgeons. We, as a specialty, stand on the shoulders of giants. And just as we are connected to those who came before us, we are now responsible for the next generation of neurosurgical innovators and leaders.
The future of our specialty depends on our ability to create environments that encourage bold, original research, new methods of communication and creative, leading-edge tools for learning.
The methods by which we study, connect and learn have undergone revolutionary change since I first joined the AANS as a resident candidate in 1987. The internet as we know it did not exist, virtual reality was the stuff of science fiction novels and social media was still more than a decade away.
Today, the internet connects researchers around the globe, allowing for greater collaboration, virtual reality plays a role in helping surgeons prepare for complex procedures and social media provides a forum for discussion and career development.
The mission of the Neurosurgery Research & Education Foundation (NREF) is to support ground-breaking research efforts and advance educational training. The generosity of members and industry partners has enabled the foundation to invest over $28 million in the future of neurosurgery.
Thanks to your generosity in Fiscal Year 2019, the NREF hosted five resident courses, awarded 25 medical students summer fellowships, 11 post-residency fellowships and 13 research grants and young clinician investigator awards. While we are proud of these accomplishments, hundreds of grant applications and course requests have gone unsupported.
To nurture the development of the next great neurosurgical innovator, the NREF relies on the generosity of individuals and institutions to help provide exceptional educational and research opportunities for talented, young neurosurgeons.
You can help us propel neurosurgery forward. As we’ve learned from the example of Cushing, Van Wagenen, Rhoton – and so many others – what we do today can have the power to resonate long into the future.
Together, we will make discoveries that improve lives. I thank you for including the NREF in your philanthropy.
Regis W. Haid, Jr., MD, FAANS