Chapter Name: American Epilepsy Society
Report By: Eileen M. Murray, MM, CAE
Summary of Activities:
2020 presented us with challenges to our world and to each of us, personally and professionally - but also opportunities to serve our members, the epilepsy community and people with epilepsy. AES responded to immediate, acute needs and was able to continue our work on long term goals and meet our ongoing commitments to our members and our patients.
The 2020 AES Annual Meeting was almost entirely planned when it became clear that rather than open registration in June we would instead be planning an entirely new event. More than 4,600 registrants from all disciplines and from more than 60 countries participated in a tremendously successful AES2020. On demand content remained available for 90 days following the event.
AES also responded to the immediate need of our members in the face of the pandemic. In response to COVID-19, AES convened a cross-organization collaborative effort that served to leverage shared efforts and learning and has led to an ongoing agreement to continue collaboration post-COVID. Among the outcomes was a set of pharmacotherapy comments and recommendations on managing patients with epilepsy during COVID-19; a series of Ask The Expert Webinars including two on telehealth and on unique perspective and lessons learned from epileptologists serving on the front lines; and publication in Epilepsy Currents on the Impact of COVID-19 on Epilepsy Care and COVID-19 in Epilepsy Patients. We also provided training programs with ready-to use content to help with the transition from in person to virtual training, including Professors Rounds Online (PRO), and promotion of the AES Fellowship Training Curriculum.
This Spring, AES issued a statement condemning, in the clearest and strongest terms, racism and discrimination in any of its manifestations. We also committed to take responsibility as a medical and scientific society to pursue solutions to address healthcare disparities and inequities and to support the development of a diverse healthcare and scientific professional community. Toward this goal, the board appointed a special Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, whose recommendations were adopted by the Board in December and will be incorporated into the 2021-2023 strategic plan designed to assure that diversity, equity and inclusion are part of the fabric of AES, and that AES is seen as an exemplar for its support and promotion of these principles.
Other highlights of AES work this year includes
- Publication of an RSE Comprehensive Review
- Telehealth Position Statement
- PCORI Infantile Epilepsy Systematic Review
- Publication of an updated ASM Reference Table
- Initial planning work to have AES sponsor a Fellowship Match
- Launch of the new EpiFITE in service training
- Expanded Psychosocial Comorbidities resources
- Awarded nearly $1.1-million in early career research grants, as well as seven Seed Grants and reinstating Infrastructure Grants
- In collaboration with NINDS, the AES Benchmarks Stewards Committee synthesized extensive feedback from the community to identify Transformative Research Priorities for epilepsy and supported NINDS convening of the virtual Curing the Epilepsies Conference Jan 4-6, 2021 to finalize this significant set of priorities.
- Established an AES Young Epilepsy Section (YES) Committee
- Epilepsy Currents celebrated its 20th Anniversary with an issue highlighting 12 commentaries on significant topics from first five years of the journal reprinted with updated commentary
- AES received a gift from the Sergievsky Trust of $2-million to establish an early career fellowship for a doctor from an underrepresented minority, with preference to African American, with an interest in issues affecting medically underserved people who have epilepsy or seizures
Finally the AES Board, Council Chairs, committee members and staff have finalized a new 2021-2023 Strategic Plan for AES. The plan carefully incorporates input from members gathered through a member needs assessment survey and focus groups – drawing input together from more than 1,000 members.
We expect 2021 to continue to present both challenges and opportunities as we continue to expand our virtual resource and content delivery and to monitor and respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on delivery of care and on people with epilepsy.
With a newly approved strategic plan for 2021-2023 the AES Board, Councils, committees and staff will be announcing a range of new initiatives in the coming months.
Officer Election Date: December 2021
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