Epigraph Vol. 17 Issue 1, 2015
From the Vice President
Dear friends of the ILAE Community,
It has been almost two years since the beginning of the current Management Committee at the Montreal International Epilepsy Congress in 2013. In these two years it has been an extraordinary pleasure to work with my dear colleagues Emilio Perucca (President), Nico Moshé (Past President), Helen Cross (Secretary-General) and Samuel Wiebe (Treasurer).
The International League Against Epilepsy has achieved worldwide success over the first century of its existence. This success is reflected by the steady growth of League activities in all of our regions (Europe, North America, Latin America, Eastern Mediterranean Africa and Asia/Oceania) and the expanded collaboration among the regions with joint multinational educational and research activities. The expansion has been greatest in the last two decades, and it has been a privilege for me to participate in the League leadership during this exciting period.
As the scope and membership of the League expanded, it became clear that there was a real need to represent our constituency better, and the first and major step the League took was amending its constitution to ensure participation of all regions in the governance of the League at the highest level with membership to the Executive Committee and the Management Committee. When I was First Vice President in the previous Executive Committee (2009-2013), a Constitution Task Force was created to amend the Constitution and Bylaws under the direction of President Nico Moshé. The amended constitution was ratified by the General Assembly at the Rome International Epilepsy Congress in 2011. These new guides for League function assured that all regions would be represented and have a voice in League governance.
One of the important constitutional changes is the direct election of the chairs of the regional commission by the member chapters of each region. This change ended the practice of the Executive Committee appointing the chairs and has assured that the voice of each region is more reflective of the wishes of the chapters. The elected Regional Chair will also now be a member of the Executive Committee, which will improve communications not only between the leadership of the League and the regions but also across regions, for the benefit of the ILAE as an international organization. It's a very positive change that I have experienced first-hand because I served under the old and new Constitution and Bylaws.
The elected Chairs of six regional commissions are Drs Amadou Gallo Diop (Africa), Byung-In Lee (Asia-Oceania), Hassan Hosny (Eastern Mediterranean), Meir Bialer (Europe), Marco Medina (Latin America), and Sheryl Haut (North America). According to the new constitution, regional chairs are now members of the ILAE Executive Committee. However, because the rules, conditions and history of each region are very different from each other, we are in the process of harmonizing the election process for all regions. For the election of the regional Chair and the members of each regional commission, it is important that the ILAE Constitution and By-Laws be applied for each regional election. Discussions with the new Election Task Force (Helen Cross, Chair), Constitution Task Force and Executive Committee are underway to resolve these important issues for the consistency and transparency of the Regional Elections.
What I have enjoyed most about my service are the people with whom I work on the Management Committee. The unique backgrounds and personalities of each has brought the needed diverse perspectives but common purpose that are necessary for the League to prosper and grow.
Emilio Perucca, our President, is a true Italian gentleman and outstanding neuro-pharmacologist. Starting life in a small town on Lake Maggiore on the Italian-Swiss border, he has become an internationally known neuro-pharmacologist and epilepsy researcher. But he also has an extraordinary knowledge of flowers and plants across the world. I have learned much from his straight-forward decision-making.
Helen Cross, our Secretary-General is known to all as an international leader in pediatric neurology and epilepsy. Her great organizational skills have kept the League moving forward by staying on top of the many issues that we are dealing with and by making sure we do not lose track of anything. In Japan I often awaken to a message from Helen that keeps me focused on what we are doing, and through our many calls, I have come to understand and appreciate the English accent much better.
Samuel Wiebe, our Treasurer, is perhaps our most international member. He was born and raised in Mexico, but is now one of the leading Canadian epilepsy researchers. His quiet personality is well suited to his role during these turbulent financial times. In addition to the many aspects of financial management that he has taught me, I have profited from his deep knowledge of literature and world cinematology, that extends to such Japanese classics as "Narayamabushikou."
Nico Moshé, our Past President, is known to all. As President his outstanding leadership helped shape many of the changes in the organization and direction of the League to make it more reflective of our membership and the 21st century. He, like several others in the Management Committee, is a global citizen. Born in Greece and trained in the US, he refers to himself proudly as "Nico from the Bronx." Most of us know him as that rare breed of outstanding clinical and basic researcher who has also trained many of the rising stars in clinical and laboratory epilepsy research.
All of these colleagues complement my own international experience. I left Japan to study neurophysiology and kindling with Robert Naquet in Gif-sur-Yvette and then traveled to Montréal to learn epilepsy surgery from Professor Andre Olivier. I took these two skills along with a knowledge and love of French wine back to Japan. My cultural tendencies have also caused Nico to nominate me as official ILAE photographer.
In the remainder of this term, I believe it is our mission to continue and further enhance collaborative international education, training, and research to improve the quality of life for all the people with epilepsy, regardless of gender, age, geographic location and economic status.
I have been encouraged by the recent WHO Executive Board resolution on epilepsy. This event, which came through the sustained efforts of Emilio and Thanos Covanis of the IBE, has energized all of us because we may soon be successful in bringing real benefit to people with epilepsy around the world.
Tatsuya Tanaka, Vice President
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