Learn how the AAN, like neurology itself, has evolved from a rich and fascinating past.

The mission

The American Academy of Neurology, founded in 1948, is an international professional association of more than 28,000 neurologists and neuroscientists.

It is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care and enhancing member career satisfaction.

The AAN's vision is to be indispensable to its members by providing guidance and inspiration through education, information, policy development, and advocacy for our members and their patients, while maintaining the highest ethical and professional standards.



The Academy was founded in 1948 by A.B. Baker, MD, chair of the neurology department of the University of Minnesota. This was done in response to the difficulties of one of his residents, Joseph Resch, MD, in finding a society to continue his education and network with fellow neurologists.

Joining forces

Baker was aided by Adolph L. Sahs, MD, of the University of Iowa; Francis M. Forster, MD, of Jefferson Medical Hospital in Philadelphia; and Russell DeJong, MD, of the University of Michigan.

Baker served as the first Academy president, and Forster and Sahs later had terms as president. DeJong was the founding editor-in-chief of the journal Neurology®, which began publication in 1951. The AAN had 52 charter members.

Elevated status

The establishment of the Academy, coupled with the increased need for neurologists following World War II, helped elevate the status of neurology as a practice distinct from psychiatry. In 1947, there were between 300 and 325 physicians in the United States who designated themselves as primary neurologists, and there were only 32 residency positions available nationwide.

Continued growth

By 1970, there were 2,727 primary neurologists and some 700 residents in training. By the end of 2012, the Academy had more than 22,000 neurologist members in the United States, as well as 4,000 international members.

Listen to Early Leaders on AAN History

Efforts are underway to preserve the history of modern neurology and the role of the AAN in supporting the profession

Former AAN President Joseph Foley, MD, FAAN, was interviewed by historian Barbara Sommer and Douglas J. Lanska, MD, FAAN

On December 8, 2011, Douglas J. Lanska, MD, FAAN, past chair of the AAN History Section and consulting historian Barbara Sommer interviewed former President Joseph Foley, MD, FAAN at his home in Cleveland. Foley passed away in July 2012.

Sommer and Heidi L. Roth, MD, interviewed Canadian neuroscientist Brenda Milner, CC, OQ, DSc, PhD, a pioneer in the field of neuropsychology and cognitive functions.

Milner, age 93, remains active in her research at the Cognitive Neuroscience Unit of the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University.

Oral History Interview Transcripts

Appendix 1: Daroff Pictures
May 14, 2015

Appendix 2: Daroff Biographical Sources
May 14, 2015

Appendix 3: Daroff CV
May 14, 2015

Appendix 4: Anecdotes
May 14, 2015

Appendix 5: Frank Forster Correspondence
May 14, 2015

Interview with Robert B. Daroff, MD (1)
February 22, 2014

Interview with Robert B. Daroff, MD (2)
April 10, 2014

Interview with Sami I. Harik, MD (Addition to Robert B. Daroff Interview) 
June 9, 2014

Interview with Kenneth M. Heilman, MD
November 4, 2013

Interview with H. Richard Tyler, MD
August 26, 2013

Interview with Lewis P. "Bud" Rowland, MD
November 18, 2012

Interview with William M. Landau, MD
August 10, 2012

Interview with Maynard M. Cohen, MD, PhD
August 1, 2012

Interview with Joseph M. Foley, MD
December 8, 2011

Interview with Brenda Milner, PhD, ScD
December 2, 2011

Suggest future History interviews
The History Section will select prospective interview subjects on an annual basis. To suggest someone, contact Peter J. Koehler, MD, PhD, FAAN, leader of the Oral History Work Group.

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