AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 29, Number 1, 2020


Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day: Building Upon our Neurosurgical Foundation at the WFNS 15th Interim Meeting

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It is no wonder Rome teems every day with bustling visitors, moving from one ancient marvel to another, trying in vain to fit one more glimpse of the past into the day. Walking through the city, layers of past centuries are revealed around every corner, yet as the proverb goes “To know Rome, a life does not suffice”.

Ancient Rome’s Influence on Modern Culture
The city excites visitors because of the visible history available to the casual observer, and yet, the cultural tradition of the Roman Republic’s influence on the Western World surround us every day. Ancient scholars date the founding of Rome to 753 B.C., and various kings ruled over this period until the founding of the Republic in 509 BC. That was such a long time ago, and yet, traces of ancient Rome are found in modern day languages, governments and religions. Various democracies around the world have their foundation in Roman law and governance. Many of the people governed under those democracies spoke languages that originated from Latin, the most widely spoken being Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian . They also practiced Christianity, which was spread to different areas of Europe through the Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire encompassed multiple groups of people with their own cultures under one rule and for many years, brought stability and civilization to these territories, before the ancient world plunged into the Dark Ages. Many credit the system of roadways, infrastructure and strong leaders for the spread of knowledge and the longevity of the empire.

The Opening Ceremony during the 15th Interim Meeting of the World Federation of Neurological Societies featured singers from Rome’s Philharmonic Orchestra. To watch a short clip, click above.

Perhaps then, there was no more fitting location than Rome to hold the 15th Interim Meeting of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS), bringing together neurosurgeons from across the world to open the lines of communication between each other, building strong individual societies through this exchange of information and collectively make decisions about the future of the field of neurosurgery.

The meeting took place in “the eternal city” from Sept. 8-12, 2015, at the Rome Marriott Park Hotel. It was no surprise that past centuries popped up there, as attendees entered and exited the main ballroom over a glass floor encapsulating an ancient Roman roadway that had once connected Rome’s city center to the coast.

Celebrating Italian Culture and the Art of Neurosurgery
The theme of the meeting, From Ancient Rome to Modern Neurosurgery, included moments celebrating the rich cultural history of Italy through music, art, religion and cuisine. The opening ceremony featured the singers of Rome’s Philharmonic Orchestra, and the meeting closed with a presentation on Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. Attendees were also welcomed to attend an audience with Pope Francis. Meeting lunches exceeded all expectations and featured Italian pastas of all shapes and sizes; attendees ate to their hearts’ content. Of course, in between were many moments to celebrate the art of neurosurgery, as well an extensive scientific program spanning five days.

Dr Franco Servadei

Franco Servadei, MD, was selected as the WFNS president-elect and will assume the role of president after the next WFNS 16th World Congress in Istanbul, Turkey, following the term of current WFNS President Yong-Kwang Tu, MD, PhD.

Many American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) leaders attended the WFNS 15th Interim Meeting as faculty, and the Chair of the AANS International Programs Committee, Christopher M. Loftus, MD, FAANS, also currently serves as the WFNS Treasurer. AANS President Hunt Batjer, MD, FAANS, led the North American delegation since the AANS serves as one of the five continental societies of the WFNS. Almost all of the neurological country societies in the North American delegation were represented at the WFNS meeting and cast their votes for future meeting locations and leaders.

New Leadership Roles Determined
The votes cast during the executive session resulted in locations for the WFNS Interim Meeting in 2019, the WFNS Congress in 2021 and a new WFNS president-elect being selected. Beijing, China was selected to be the site of the next WFNS Interim Meeting in 2019, with the Chinese Congress of Neurological Surgeons hosting their colleagues from around the world while Bogotá, Colombia, will be the site of the 2021 World Congress, with the Colombian Neurosurgery Association welcoming the world. The role of president-elect was also determined. Franco Servadei, MD, from Italy was selected for this leadership role and will assume the role of president after the next WFNS 16th World Congress in Istanbul, Turkey, following the term of current WFNS President Yong-Kwang Tu, MD, PhD. These leaders will also join us at the 2016 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago.

The WFNS was founded in 1955 and unites almost 130 member societies throughout the world. Their mission is to facilitate communication between neurosurgeons worldwide, aid in the exchange and dissemination of ideas and encourage research in the field of neurosurgery and allied sciences. These goals are achieved through periodic worldwide meetings, education courses, training centers, donations of surgical instruments to developing countries and the WFNS Foundation.

The Roman Empire lasted for about 500 years, and before that, the Roman Republic about another 500. Both left their mark on modern society through art, architecture, language, religion and science emanating for a long time from Rome. As a relatively new practice, neurosurgery’s approximately 100 years seem short by comparison. Yet, the foundation of a neurosurgical empire is being built through the exchange of information and research at international meetings, like WNFS meetings, that bring together many different country societies from around the world. Some of that foundation was built at the WFNS 15th Interim Meeting in Rome and will be along for many generations of neurosurgeons to come.


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