Pan American Section

2011 Chairman's Letter

Jorge L. Juncos

Jorge L. Juncos,


Dear Colleagues,

The Pan American Section (PAS) of the MDS has been busy this year and would like to share some of the highlights of these activities with its membership. The mission continues to be to promote education in movement disorders throughout the Americas and the Caribbean. During the first few years PAS has concentrated on the development of education activities in Central America, South America and the Caribbean, without taking away from the excellent educational opportunities already available in the US and Canada. We expect the latter activities to continue uninterrupted. One of the long term goals of MDS is to make educational offerings more responsive to the needs of each region. The job of PAS is to promote this vision in our corner of the world.

The MDS-PAS consists of the Organizing Committee charged with providing direction, momentum and logistics for achieving the above goals. The job of the PAS Education Committee is to prioritize and organize educational activities making above goals operational. The roster of these committees appears at the end of this piece. Please feel free to contact any of its members for questions or suggestions. The PAS Education Committee's immediate goal has been to complete work on a number of recent and upcoming events that are detailed our webpage (see link below). The target audience for these educational activities has expanded to include movement disorders neurologists, other specialists and general physicians, residents and patient support groups. The Committee's long term goals are to identify priorities and strategies to guide these efforts. With a PAS Education vision and mission in place soon, MDS is committed to help find the funds to move these initiatives forward. In this regard, increasing member participation in MDS is critical. There is no better way to identifying potential sources of local funding than through its Members. Once approved by the PAS Education Committee, the MDS Education Committee gives final approval to these activities. It is then up to the MDS IEC to help find the funding needed.

PAS and the MDS staff have been working feverishly with local and regional faculty to make the job of creating educational opportunities relatively painless. In the past two years members of MDS and PAS have shared their expertise with the local organizers to facilitate symposia, meetings, and activities that have taken advantage of MDS' Ambassador and Visiting Professor Programs. The MDS staff has been invaluable at providing logistical support in helping these activities come to fruition. For this the PAS Organizing Committee would like to thank Ms. Catherine Breckenridge who has orchestrated these efforts along with Kirk Terry and Jenny Quebbeman. After doing an outstanding job in PAS, sadly Catherine has moved to other responsibilities within MDS. We would like to wish Catherine 'boncourage' in her new position and welcome Danielle McLean as the new PAS staff liaison as of April 4, 2011. Jorge Juncos has served as Chair of the PAS Organizing Committee and Irene Litvan as Chair of the PAS Education Committee. The PAS Organizing Committee has nominated two PAS Website Co-Editors charged with updating and making the MDS-PAS web page a living organism with the capacity to keep our vast region glued together and on the same 'page.' Our last in-person PAS Organizing Committee meeting took place on March 26, 2011 in São Paolo, Brazil during the meeting of the Movement Disorders section of the Brazilian Neurologic Society. It was a productive meeting made all the more agreeable by our hosts who organized a number of social events for the group. Our thanks go to Drs. Vanderci Borges, Carlos Reider and Vitor Tumas for being such gracious hosts.

One item of interest is that the PAS Committee teleconferences and meetings in South America have been held in Spanish to foster participation by PAS Members in Central and South America. This has worked well and not impeded the participation of native English speakers Prof. Phil Thompson, Prof. Tony Lang and the MDS staff. In fact, English translation for these meetings at intervals is often provided by the PAS Chairs. Spanish-language meetings have helped to foster participation from those PAS Members new to working with MDS. In addition, as with other Regional Sections, particularly the AOS, PAS encourages regional meetings and courses to be conducted in the language most appropriate for that audience, whether it is Spanish, Portuguese, etc. Nonetheless, it is important to note that English remains the official language of MDS, and this will be the language used in any open international meeting.

Among the educational opportunities being organized by PAS for next year, perhaps the most ambitious is the planning of a satellite Movement Disorder symposium in La Paz, Bolivia in March 2012. Dr. Janeth Laguna, a member of the PAS Education Committee, has been working closely with Dr. Litvan and others to crystallize the details and the logistics for this meeting. The conference will have a global breadth and appeal, and will be a great opportunity for Bolivians to showcase their capital city. More on this important meeting will be appearing in the MDS-PAS website soon.

From the PAS Organizing Committee perspective, perhaps the most important initiatives for the next year are forging a strategic plan similar to that of the Education Committee, and laying the groundwork for the first electoral process in PAS. The Committee is already collecting information from a survey of its leadership to complete a vision and mission road map shortly after our meeting in Toronto. In that meeting we will also chose a nominating committee and a timeline for said elections. Proposed bylaws will be translated into the various constituent languages and distributed to the membership for comment. Voting on these bylaws will be a first order of business for the newly elected PAS Executive Committee. The election process will be identical to that used by the Asian and Oceanian Section (AOS) and European Section (ES) of the MDS.

In the last two years, rather than focus on the electoral process, the Organizing Committee chose to focus instead on getting to known each other and learning about the needs and aspiration of each region. We used the collaborative work surrounding the planning and participation in educational activities as a vehicle to achieve this goal. In the process we have gotten to know each other and have gained confidence in the process. As was the case for the Education Committee, the 'let's learn to work together' part of this process has focused on regions that were not as active in the MDS as the US and Canada, mainly Central and South America. Going forward, we will continue to expand these efforts to achieve maximum representation and participation by all regions. After all, to achieve our mission, the PAS agenda will need to reflect the ambitions and meet the expectations of all its members.

More details about upcoming activities will be provided at the PAS General Assembly in Toronto to be held on Monday June 6 at 2:00pm in Room 801A. From an organizational standpoint we are looking for ways to promote increased participation and leadership among junior members and trainees, and building bridges between countries and regions by facilitating interactions in educational, clinical and research activities. As an example, a group of PAS Members in Argentina have been developing a Parkinson's disease patient database, the goal of which is to foster better patient care and collaboration. They will be presenting this project in Toronto as they prepare to expand this initiative to other countries in the region. Another key initiative to our educational goals will be making the PAS website a more integral part of the PAS communication strategy and a more relevant tool to our practice and academic activities. In the coming year check back with MDS and PAS websites to see exciting new changes which could include podcasts, recorded continuing medical education courses, and consultative video sessions in various languages. In summation, the rapidly evolving practice of medicine/neurology everywhere will present significant challenges to the care of our patients and our professional life in the next decade. We are proposing that these challenges can best be met in our specialty through education and collaboration by region.

See you in Toronto.


Jorge L. Juncos, MD
Chairman, MDS-PAS