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SFCNS Presidential message 2016


Dear friends and colleagues


This is my first message since I took over the reins from Anton Valavanis as president of our federation. As I must admit – and you may have noticed – this hasn't been an easy year for the SFCNS due to the protracted unclear situation concerning the possible withdrawal of the SSNS from the SFCNS. On the occasion of the general assembly of the SSNS during this year's congress in Basel, the neurosurgeons held an intense discussion in the sense of "Should I stay, or should I go?". The result is known: the vast majority of the members of the SSNS voted in favour of remaining in the SFCNS! Personally, I was very happy about that. With this large, supporting majority we have a clear mandate to further join forces and to move forward with our joint objectives for the future of clinical neurosciences in Switzerland.

I am well aware of the insecurities which we, the neurosurgeons, have created in the past. On the other hand, this uncertainty has led to beneficial discussions within the SFCNS about its role and potential in the Swiss healthcare-arena. It enabled us to return the IVHSM-mandates to the political organs rather than to continue to fight against each other during endless discussions in numerous tiring commission meetings about the geographical repartition of certain subspecialties. We will not let the politicians impose their will on our vision of how neuro-medicine shall be organised. Instead we will follow the rules of modern organ-centred medicine and do so in full collegiality.

The fact that the above story has ended in catharsis rather than cataclysm does not preclude from a realistic view on the years of hard work ahead of us during which I reckon with your continuing support: We have to energize the recently founded working groups devoted to a common educational trunk for our doctors in training and to the creation of a subspecialty curriculum in neurocritical care, both of which are spearheaded by experts in the respective fields. Furthermore, we shall continue to advocate for an FMH title in neuroradiology. On the one hand, the present absence of recognition of neuroradiology as a specialty in itself by Swiss health authorities signifies a lack of understanding of the advances and organisation of modern medicine. On the other hand, this points out a neglect of what has been achieved and what is being done daily by Swiss neuroradiologists. The first goal, moving toward a «common trunk» in clinical neuro-medicine will be further supported by the recent decision of the associations of Swiss young neurologists and young neurosurgeons to found a federation of «young clinical neuroscientists». Other further projects are to organise our first SFCNS «Summer School» next year in Zurich as well as to start the work in the task force for the important topic «Neuro-Intensive». Last but not least the publication of the first issue of our new SFCNS Online Journal «Clinical and Translational Neuroscience» is something we can certainly be proud of and look forward to.

The incorporation of results from basic neurosciences into clinical routine has strongly contributed to the rise of neurosciences as a whole. This is illustrated by the fact that neurosciences are having the strongest impact on the recent medical literature. The close collaboration between basic, clinical and increasingly also computational neuroscientists and engineers is further facilitated in Switzerland due to the geographical vicinity of the various centres in which we are working. This fosters networking amongst top-class neuroscientists under exceptionally well funded conditions and an excellent infrastructure when compared to other countries. This cannot be taken for granted which is why we have to continue to strive.

It has been my experience that any kind of exposition, be it as a team leader or as a president of a scientific society such as ours, starts with big goals and a good portion of optimism. But we are frequently grounded by reality and suddenly the task of the leader is to navigate through difficult waters with one goal primarily: avoiding (collateral) damage. Please be assured that I will do my best in order to move on with our federation, always keeping our common interests in mind. I greatly appreciate the leap of faith that you have given me. Please feel free to contact me any time via email or phone.

Cordially Yours,


Prof. Karl Schaller, MD