NANOS Stories & Donor Testimonials

NANOS is proud to share our members' inspirational stories and hope that you will consider making a donation to NANOS as part of your charitable giving, if you have not done so already. THANK YOU if you have! Here's why NANOS matters and how the work of all our volunteers makes a difference:

"I became interested in neuro-ophthalmology as a 2nd year medical student from exposure to a charismatic neurophysiologist named Jim McIlwain at Brown, who was doing single cell recordings in the cat superior colliculus.  The clinical spark to ensure I pursued this subspecialty as a career path came during a visiting clerkship on the Neurology service at Johns Hopkins, when one of my patients with a painful 6th nerve paresis was seen in consultation by Neil Miller and his team.  Neil's methodical clinical history and exam, and his corrective over-reading of the skull polytomography (which was the way we looked at fine skull detail in 1978) allowed Neil to confidently request an ENT sinus biopsy that confirmed a nasopharyngeal carcinoma as the cause,   and start palliative therapy.  I remember being so inspired by Neil's classic diagnostic approach, with detailed and efficient use of studies and consultants to confidently help this patient, that I decided on the spot that I wanted to be able to do that myself.  By a circuitous route, I ended up back at Johns Hopkins in 1984-5 as one of Neil Miller's fellows, and again in 1998-2000 as his junior colleague at the Wilmer Institute seeing patients.  All along the way, I learned the great value of the medical library, and also learned the great value of organized collections of photographs and video of patient findings for teaching and learning neuro-ophthalmology.  NOVEL represents the best that our discipline can offer in archival patient diagnostic material.  The hard-earned collections of some of the most experienced clinicians in the history of our discipline are housed there, free for use by all, and hyperlinked to explanatory text and references.  I think NOVEL is one of the highest achievements of collective effort by neuro-ophthalmologists in North America, and therefore I am proud to help support its ongoing efforts with my charitable contributions, in honor of Dr. Miller, whose own carefully collected and curated clinical material so enriched my education."

- Preston Calvert, MD, a long-time member of NANOS

"For my first four years practicing, I did not even know of the existence of NANOS.I started to go to the Walsh meeting as a fellow but my fellowship preceptor never mentioned NANOS! Once I went, I was hooked by not only the scientific content and how great a meeting it was for getting necessary scientific and practice updates in an efficient format, but also by how collegial and welcoming the group was. Fortunately for me I was getting active at the point where NANOS and Walsh were talking about merging. Ultimately, they decided to do so and needed a group to write bylaws. Someone told them that I had a lot of experience with academic-medical bylaws from work at my institution, so I was asked to participate. I think some of my suggestions were well received and ultimately a few years later, I found myself as a youngster serving on the NANOS board. This group too was amazingly welcoming and I realized putting in time trying to help the Society and the discipline both help me personally in terms of my practice and professionally, would also help others in similar circumstances and I was permanently hooked. I believe I’ve now been on the board for about 25 consecutive years and I’m still plugging away trying to help the Society achieve its goals. And the payback has been that the Society has helped me achieve several of my goals. That is what I call high interest rate! "

- Larry Frohman, MD, a long-time member of NANOS


"I finished my Neuro-Ophthalmology Fellowship in 1985 and went into private practice. My first Walsh meeting was 1984 when I was still a Neurology resident and my mentor Marg Seybold convinced me to present a case and I was kindly (or not so much) skewered by some of the Grey Hairs (a club to which I now belong). My fellowship mentor, Bob Spector was very involved with both Walsh and the Rocky Mountain Neuro-Ophthalmology Society and I started attending meeting regularly where I met others my age who have subsequently become leaders including Mark Kupersmith, Larry Frohman, Deb Friedman, Mark Moster, Kathleen Digre, Dan Kaufman, Jade Schiffman, Rosa Tang, Greg Kosmorsky, Joe Rizzo, Jim Garrity, Preston Calvert, etc. Then there were the experienced clinicians, some of whom still attend, who were always inclusive and treated me as an equal. These include: Jim Corbett, Neil Miller, Jim Sharpe Steve Feldon, Johnathan Wertschafter, Barrett Katz, Jack Selhorst, Alfredo Sadun, Simmons Lessell, and of course Tom Carlow.

I recall when the Rocky Mountain decided to become NANOS, and there was a reluctant vote to hold one out of three annual meetings in a sunny and warm location. The first warm meeting was in Rancho Bernardo in the San Diego area in 1992 when I won the 5K run because Craig Smith who was a competitive runner took all of the real runners off the course and they got lost enabling me to battle the last 100 yards with my more senior friend Brian Younge, allowing me to get a trophy which I still proudly display along with the basketball trophy I won in high school. Then there was the decision to merge Walsh with NANOS, which ended the 2 meetings a year. We also reduced the Walsh from 1.5 days to 1 day.

I have been fortunate to be able to Chair two Walsh meetings, the first in Washington DC with my colleague Jorge Kattah. That was prior to digital imaging and ability to send radiology and pathology by e-mail. We had a 6 foot stack of imaging studies, and boxes of pathology slides. We had a lovely dinner reception at the Corcoran Art Museum (which is no more) and my 37 week pregnant wife who had been at complete bedrest for 3 months at Georgetown Hospital, was able to come and sit in a big comfortable chair and greet everybody. My daughter Andrea was born several weeks later. Then Howard Krause and I did the Walsh at Hotel Del Coronado just a few years ago. If you were there, you may remember I was the one in the Red dress, Howard had the blue one along with a beard. We were pleasantly surprised when the Board allowed us to reiterate the trio from “Some Like it Hot” with President Nancy Newman playing a well-endowed Marilyn Monroe with a pillow tucked under a bathrobe.

While there were a few years when I did not attend NANOS early on when the kids were little, I think I have been to well over 30 meetings and will not miss one now. I remember the meeting at Snowmass (1999) where my kids learned how to ski at ages 3 and 5. When my 3 year-old son walked into the hotel and stated “this is not a 5 star”, I knew I had a problem.

I look forward to seeing all of my long standing colleagues and friends and trying to absorb the vast quantity of high science and great clinical presentations that are presented in a casual and collegial manner. I challenge you to find another meeting where the presenters other than the residents often wear jeans! The meeting has grown exponentially. The original Rocky Mountain meetings had less than 100 people, and now it is up to 800. I brag that I know everybody who has grey hair. I have made so many great and longstanding friends.

Well enough with the maudlin memories. The purpose of this reminiscence is to share my deep commitment to NANOS. NANOS is the only organization that represents us as Neuro-Ophthalmologists, as we straddle two specialties. While we are able to piggyback on AAN and AAO, at the end of the day it is up to us to fight our battles and educate our ranks. That applies both politically and intellectually. Our dues are not very high considering what the organization offers its members. Much of this is due to the extraordinary and purely voluntary work by our Officers, Board members, committee members, and those involved in putting on our outstanding annual meeting. There is so much being done in the background that is not fully visible or appreciated. The organization is just now becoming savvier in fund raising, and as Co-Chair of the Development committee (the money guy), I am proud that the 2020 meeting will raise more than any previous year by a good bit due to the hard work of the Staff.

Part of fund raising in any organization is direct donations from members or outsiders that our members cultivate. I personally began donating to NANOS a few years ago as I felt that I would actually see and participate in the benefits it brings to the members and the organization. Given the great things NANOS has provided to me over the past 3 decades, I am pleased to be able to be generous.  When NANOS asks for a little extra when you renew, consider giving as it will come back with dividends."

- Benjamin Frishberg, MD, a long-time member of NANOS

"NANOS is the only organization that is dedicated to Neuro-ophthalmology on a consistent basis. I find that when I go to the NANOS meetings I ALWAYS learn something New. It really helps me to keep abreast of the current Neuro-Ophthalmology knowledge. For the above reasons I will continue to contribute to NANOS."

- John L Keltner, a long-time member of NANOS



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