Read monthly updates from AAN President Ralph L. Sacco, MD, MS, FAHA, FAAN, to learn about Academy news and action on issues important to the neurology profession and patients.

February 2018

Science Takes the Spotlight at Annual Meeting in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is known as the entertainment capital of the world. But for a week in April, it will be the mecca of neurologic science at the Los Angeles Convention Center as well as at Universal Studios, where we’re thrilled to be hosting the AAN’s 70th Anniversary Celebration. We’ve held our meeting in LA twice before, in 1959 and 1978. But this gathering will be like no other, I can assure you. We’re building off exciting innovations from recent years and that includes the science program as well. Once again, we’ve broken records with more than 3,000 abstracts to be presented.

Natalia S. Rost, MD, MPH, FAAN, FAHA, is chair of the Science Committee, and she shared these thoughts on what you will experience this April in LA.

“I see science as the most dynamic element of the Annual Meeting. It’s exciting. Cutting edge. All-encompassing. Moreover, our vision for the science at the Annual Meeting is to deliver it in an effective and engaging way, as to maximize our reach to the community of neurologists and neuroscientists we serve. In this way, we strive to be indispensable to our membership, as clearly stated in the AAN’s vision. And the 2018 Annual Meeting promises to be the most exciting showcase of the best and the brightest in neurological science yet!”

The plenary sessions are always eagerly awaited. What’s in store this year?

“I am always excited about the plenary sessions at the Annual Meeting, which offer an unprecedented breadth and depth of the premier neurological science. We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, at the Presidential Plenary this year. His presentation is both timely and significant, as he underlines the advances in neurosciences in the era of the BRAIN Initiative, the importance of support for public research funding, and the excitement of what’s yet to come in neurological discoveries and the promise of cure for our patients with neurological disorders. Along with the Presidential Plenary, these daily forums cover every subspecialty and present a comprehensive array of the latest and groundbreaking developments from contemporary clinical issues to clinical trials to controversies in neurology! I hope our attendees will join us in this ‘standing-room only’ experience!”

What other programs are at the top of your must-see list?

“In addition to the plenaries, I am particularly proud of the Neuroscience in the Clinic (NIC) sessions, which first premiered in 2017 and received glowing reviews from the attendees. This session concept and format is a true testament to the nimble and innovative nature of science at the Annual Meeting—a session that has been developed in response to the feedback from the conference attendees and reflected on the best what the AAN science community can offer: a unique blend of clinical application and dynamic interaction with the neuroscience community. We begin with the burning clinical dilemmas that present to our neurology offices on a daily basis—like use of genetic testing in clinic, or managing a patient with suspected opioid abuse—and we dissect the scientific underpinnings of the current diagnosis and management of this clinical problem. The NICs were developed to encourage the dialogue between the clinicians and the scientists, the bi-directional flow of expertise and innovation, which brings meaning and purpose to the clinical applications of scientific discoveries—and, ultimately, benefits our patients. This type of exchange is only possible at the AAN Annual Meeting, where the clinical neurology and neuroscience worlds come together. Other highlights of the meeting include the “Best Of” scientific platforms, Poster Neighborhoods, and Emerging Science.”

One of the most exciting innovations of the last two Annual Meetings is the Experiential Learning Areas, or ELAs, that appear throughout the venues. Will science play a part in these presentations?

“Certainly. Another particular science program feature that I am excited about at the Annual Meeting is the return of our Research Corner, one of the seven Experiential Learning Areas. You have not fully experienced the Annual Meeting if you have not attended one of the most dynamic, motivating, and innovative ‘open’ formats that the Annual Meeting has to offer at the ELAs. It’s young, it’s interactive, it’s literally buzzing with excitement! Our Research Corner has been a particular hit with the neurology trainees and junior faculty, who gained advice from our colleagues in the NINDS Career Development program, learned about the tricks of grant writing, contemplated on the complexity of the FDA regulations, and cheered for their colleagues presenting prize-winning abstracts! I will be stopping by Research Corner daily—and I encourage my colleagues to join us there as well!”

Along with an abundance of science programming, this year’s meeting also includes 235 expert-led education courses in a variety of formats. And to mark our 70th anniversary, on Sunday, April 22, the AAN will host a special celebration at Universal Studios. The first 4,000 Annual Meeting registered attendees will receive free tickets to this spectacular event.

You can learn more at, as well as make your travel and hotel arrangements. The deadline for discounted hotel rates is March 2, and the final day to get the early registration discount is March 29. I encourage you to move quickly, as this could be the AAN’s biggest and most popular Annual Meeting ever!