As the 8th Annual Congress of the European Academy of Neurology drew to a close on Tuesday, 28 June, 2022, the reins of Europe’s largest neurology society were handed over to the new president: Prof. Paul Boon, chairman and senior full professor of neurology at Ghent University Hospital and Director of 4Brain at Ghent University. Boon, who has occupied the role of President-Elect for the last two years, has previously served as Chair of the EAN Education Committee, Co-chair of the EAN Scientific Panel on Epilepsy, and has been a member of the European Journal of Neurology Editorial Board and the EAN Scientific Committee. He is a Fellow of the European Academy of Neurology (FEAN).
Speaking to EAN TV on Tuesday afternoon, the new president had the opportunity to outline some of his aims for the EAN during his presidency and emphasised his enthusiasm for the job at hand, as well as the excellent working relationship and positive atmosphere within the EAN Board.
“I am excited for many reasons,” said Boon. “I have had the privilege of working with my colleagues in the previous board and the interactions were very positive. I am looking forward to building upon the work that has been done by my colleagues and the previous president, to make the house of neurology stronger. Another reason to be excited is the positive vibes of the Vienna congress [EAN 2022], which was an event that we were all longing for, for the chance to see people and to interact personally, and I received a lot of positive comments and encouragement for the task that is awaiting me.”
Addressing key priorities for his presidency, Boon began with brain health, referring to the difficult but vital task of implementing the recently published Brain Health strategy. He noted the importance of collaborating with EU partners and many other stakeholders, including patients. “I think everything really starts and ends with patients,” he said. “We are a neurological society, and it is basically for the sake of patients that we do all this, so the patients are our prime partner in this. That being said, there is a long way to implement the documents into concrete actions both at European level and national level.”
Boon identified determining an EAN research agenda as a further area of focus. “Many agencies, individual nations and even individual neurological departments have research agendas,” he noted, “The idea of the EAN having a series of clinically and societally relevant priorities that would be shared by many in Europe, I think would be a major step forward in our efforts to promote neurological research in Europe.”
Last but not least, the new president turned to the welfare of young neurologists and—more specifically—residents, as an action point that should be high on the EAN agenda; a point he has previously addressed here on EANpages. He highlighted ongoing issues with the European neurology workforce, the high frequency of burn-out among residents and the shortfall in neurologists in some countries, with the number of professionals leaving the discipline being greater than the number entering. More care needs to be taken, he said, regarding what neurology does with its residents.
Boon also paid tribute to the outgoing EAN President, Prof. Claudio Bassetti, for his many achievements in the role. He said Bassetti has “lifted the standards of the European Academy of Neurology in many ways” with his continuous drive to increase efforts with regard to advocacy on the European scene, the establishment of an eLearning platform, his focus on the organisation undertaking its own scientific studies, and his contribution to helping define the EAN Brain Health strategy.
In addition to the new president, several other positions on the EAN Board changed hands at EAN 2022, following elections held at the Assembly of Delegates on Saturday, 25 June. For more details, click here.