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AANS '22: Where Yo-Yo Ma Brought Today's Neurosurgeons to Tears

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The April, 2022 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting in Philadelphia had a tremendous lineup of wonderful guest speakers and AANS faculty. This meeting was frame shifted to center on the weekend and ran Friday through Monday, which minimized time away from a neurosurgeon's practice. The theme of the meeting was "The Culture of Neurosurgery." The meeting opened with a superb session including NFL stars Jerome Bettis and Michael Bush who were interviewed by the AANS President Dr. Regis W. Haid and AANS Committee Member Dr. Aviva Abosch. The 2,000 medical attendees were treated to thought-provoking talks from several other featured speakers including Peggy Noonan, Esther Duflo, Lisa Wainwright, and Yo-Yo Ma. Fantastic new science was presented throughout the weekend and there were abundant new, cutting-edge technologies on the exhibit floor that had not been shown to neurosurgeons for several years due to the pandemic.

Outside of the plenary and educational sessions, AANS also offered community sessions. These new sessions, which took place Monday, provided smaller groups of attendees an opportunity to dive deep into specific topics. New literature was examined, and the audience was encouraged to provide feedback and offer up differing viewpoints. These new interactive sessions were highly interactive and generated tremendous discussion. Every time I attend the AANS, I am amazed at what my colleagues are doing and I always learn something that I can take back to my practice.

For me the highlight of this meeting was the Sunday plenary session. It is one that I will never forget. During that session, the audience was treated to a live, soulful Cello performance from Yo-Yo Ma which brought many to tears. Interspersed with the music was Yo-Yo Ma's discussion on the platform with Dr. Haid and Michael Wang. Yo-Yo Ma discussed generational differences in thought processes and philosophy. He suggested the generation of surgeons from ages 40 to 70 need to adjust and become aware of the more collectively minded younger generation who are on social media and have a social consciousness. He played a musical piece that crossed generational lines and touched on the past, the present, and the future using notes from his cello. Honestly, it is difficult to describe the impact of Yo-Yo Ma's music when you hear it live in person. The recordings do not simulate the in-person impact. It is no wonder why he has played for several US Presidents during his many decades’ career (including JFK and Reagan). Within seconds of playing the cello, he has the ability to captivate an audience of thousands. I had the opportunity to briefly meet Yo-Yo Ma after his performance in the plenary session when Dr. Haid introduced him to me and Dr. Adam Arthur. The photo we took together will be a cherished memory of this meeting.

Dr. Mummaneni is employed by UCSF. He has received grants from AO spine, NREF, NIH, and ISSG and has received consulting fees from Depuy Synthes, Globus, Stryker, and Nuvasive. He has received travel support from Stryker and Nuvasive, has stock in Spinicity ISD, and royalties in Thieme Publishers and Springer Publishers.

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