Learn about the American Migraine Foundation’s recent accomplishments, tenure transition of leadership, plans for the future of migraine research and promising developments in migraine advocacy and education.

We hosted the 2023 Migraine State of the Union webinar at the conclusion of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month (MHAM). Our leadership from the American Migraine Foundation (AMF) joined together in the spirit of this year’s MHAM theme—educate yourself, educate others—and our new GETHEADUCATED initiative, to share inspiring updates about the state of migraine research today. We also discussed some new initiatives that will promote migraine research and education and will empower those in our community to continue to move against migraine.

Nim S. Singh, MPH, Vice Chair of the American Migraine Foundation, moderated the webinar with panelists Christine Lay, MD, FAHS, Chair; Lawrence C. Newman, MD, FAHS, Immediate Past Chair; and David W. Dodick, MD, FAHS, Chief Advisor, Research and Scientific Development. The discussion began with an overview of our recent progress and some key accomplishments, followed by an exciting update on the direction of migraine research and future priorities.

Welcoming New Leadership

We are pleased to welcome new American Migraine Foundation Chair, Dr. Christine Lay, and new American Migraine Foundation Vice Chair, Nim S. Singh. Dr. Lay is the Deborah Ivey Christiani Brill Chair in Neurology at the University of Toronto and the founding director of the Centre for Headache at Women’s College Hospital. Nim S. Singh brings 18 years of nonprofit healthcare experience to her role as AMF Vice Chair, and she previously served as American Migraine Foundation and International Headache Society-Global Patient Advocacy Coalition Executive Director.

We want to thank AMF Immediate Past Chair, Dr. Lawrence C. Newman, for his leadership as Chair and the invaluable guidance he provided furthering the Foundation’s mission.

Reflecting on Our Vision for Migraine Research

David W. Dodick, MD, co-founded the American Migraine Foundation in 2010 with a mission rooted in four core pillars: support, research, education and advocacy. 

“When thinking about the American Migraine Foundation’s research initiatives, [the goal was] to mobilize patients to advocate for more research,” Dr. Dodick says, “and to drive impactful research that will lead to meaningful advances in the diagnosis and treatment of people with migraine and other headache disorders.”

To support the objective of driving impactful research, we launched the American Registry for Migraine Research (ARMR) in 2015. ARMR was modeled after the Framingham Heart Study—a decades-long study that has revolutionized the field of cardiology—and collected standardized clinical and biological data from 3,000 patients with migraine in order to help clinicians and healthcare providers better understand the disease.

“Ultimately, that trove of big data could be utilized to usher in an era of what we need in this field, which is precision medicine,” says Dr. Dodick. “Precision medicine strives to ease the burden of managing migraine by identifying treatments proven to be effective based on an individual’s personal health data.”

The American Registry for Migraine Research (ARMR)

ARMR conducted data intake for five years and was paused in 2020. Over the years, the study has produced eight publications* that have had a transformative effect on the diagnosis and treatment of migraine. With the help of the newly created Dodick Lighthouse Fund for Migraine Research, we now plan to explore the feasibility of performing this research on a wider scale to engage an expanded patient population. Dr. David W. Dodick stepped into the newly created role of AMF Chief Advisor, Research and Scientific Advancement, to oversee research strategy and execution.

“ARMR Version 2.0 is expanding our reach and making sure that we collect [data from] a very diverse patient population,” Dr. Dodick says. “We need to represent not just the tiny fraction that gets into a headache center, but everybody out there in the community—in primary care centers and offices, as well as those who are not even in doctor’s offices.”

The research that has come out of ARMR serves as a powerful tool for the migraine community and headache field alike. For example, Dr. Dodick points to one highly influential publication which clearly defined the diagnostic boundary between episodic and chronic migraine. This has the potential to impact not just diagnosis, but the specific medications and treatments doctors are able to prescribe—some of which are currently restricted depending on a person’s specific diagnosis.

“This has started an international conversation around how we’re going to modify and change the criteria for making a diagnosis of either episodic or chronic migraine,” Dr. Dodick says. “[This will help] remove the barriers that stand in the way of a patient getting access to a treatment that’s appropriate for them.”

Advancing Migraine Education and Making an Impact

For over a decade, the American Migraine Foundation has worked to mobilize a community around migraine, drive research and provide educational resources and support. The panel discussed how the Foundation seeks to work alongside the entire migraine community to shift perceptions around migraine and inspire communities all over the world to learn more about the disease. 

Increasing Interest in Headache Medicine

This is an exciting time for headache medicine, as interest in the field has increased. 

“I think for a long time in headache medicine, we hoped change was coming,” Dr. Lay says. “The fact that we have people that are interested in pursuing a career in headache medicine—they’re learning about headache medicine, they’re beginning to understand how we can significantly impact a patient’s life for the better and make change.”

Dr. Newman credits this to an incredible partnership between the American Headache Society and the American Migraine Foundation to promote advocacy and education around migraine. 

“I think part of the change in mindset has to do with our role in advocacy by reducing stigma, reframing migraine as more than just a bad headache,” says Dr. Newman. “I’ve trained about 30 fellows [total over the years]. Initially I would have one or two applicants for the position [per year]. My last year we had 30 applicants. There are now more than 40 accredited fellowship programs in headache medicine because of the impact that we can offer.”

GETHEADUCATED™: Igniting a Migraine Education Movement

The American Migraine Foundation has promoted education by expanding our library of doctor-verified resources, patient guides and webinars. This year, we launched our GETHEADUCATED™ initiative to correspond with MHAM. This initiative encourages the migraine community to educate their friends and family, community, healthcare circle and workplace about migraine.

Recent advancements in research have transformed how we educate people about the disease. “You can really change and impact a patient’s life now. We have much better technology and much better understanding [of migraine],” said Dr. Lay. “We’re using GETHEADUCATED™ to inspire patients to learn more.”

We would like to thank Immediate Past Chair Lawrence C. Newman, MD, for gifting the GETHEADUCATED™️ trademark to the American Migraine Foundation.

Transforming Migraine in the Workplace

Employers don’t often recognize migraine as the debilitating disease that it is, which creates a negative impact on employee well-being and contributes to presenteeism and absenteeism. In 2018, Dr. Dodick, in partnership with the International Headache Society – Global Patient Advocacy Coalition (IHS-GPAC), set out to change this by conducting a migraine in the workplace study with Tokyo-based information and communication technology company, Fujitsu.

“The Fujitsu study started with an epidemiological study within the company, which sought to determine what proportion of their employee base actually have migraine and how disabled are they? What does it cost the company?” Dr. Dodick says. “What we found is that 17%, or over 25,000 employees, have migraine.” 

In response, Fujitsu implemented Migraine Fitness at Work™, which resulted in a range of significant positive changes in the company. Fujitsu reported reduced stigma around migraine, increased productivity and more employees with migraine seeking medical attention, in addition to realizing $4,531 cost savings per employee by implementing the program.

Introducing the Migraine Advocacy Hub

We know that when we raise our collective voice, we can fight stigma, spread awareness and create a more inclusive world for people living with migraine. We hope to inspire more people to become advocates with our new Migraine Advocacy Hub, a central location on the American Migraine Foundation website where people can access information to get involved with migraine advocacy. 

Users can join the Migraine Advocacy Hub to become an advocate, find new opportunities to advocate for migraine and connect with advocates in their state or region. In addition to finding new ways to advocate for migraine, users can also sign up for email alerts about advocacy opportunities, browse doctor-verified resources and access support to mobilize efforts in their area.

Through the Migraine Advocacy Hub, we aim to show the collective strength of the migraine advocacy community and to demonstrate our commitment to center the patient-advocate voice.

Looking Ahead

The combined work of the American Migraine Foundation, our affiliate partners, supporters, advocates and researchers in the field of headache and migraine medicine has paved the way for many exciting outcomes for the migraine community. In the words of our Immediate Past Chair, Dr. Newman, “We have made a lot of progress, but there is still work to be done. We are committed to our vision of a day when lives are lived, not impacted by migraine.”

If you are looking for additional ways to get involved in the fight against migraine, join our Move Against Migraine group on Facebook, browse and share our doctor-verified educational resources, or learn how to get involved with our Emerging Advocate Program.

The American Migraine Foundation is committed to improving the lives of those living with this debilitating disease. For more of the latest news and information on migraine, visit the AMF Resource Library. For help finding a healthcare provider, check out our Find a Doctor tool. Together, we are as relentless as migraine.
*1. Leibovit-Reiben Z, Ishii R, Dodick DW, Dumkrieger G, Cortez M, Brennan KC, Digre K, Schwedt TJ. The impact of pre-morbid headaches on headache features and long-term health outcomes following traumatic brain injury: insights from the American Registry for Migraine Research. Headache 2022;62:566-576.
2. Ishii R, Schwedt TJ, Trivedi M, Dumkrieger G, Cortez MM, Brennan KC, Digre K, Dodick DW. Mild traumatic brain injury affects the features of migraine. J Headache Pain 2021;22:80.
3. Ishii R, Schwedt TJ, Dumkrieger G, Lalvani N, Craven A, Goadsby PJ, Lipton RB, Olesen J, Silberstein SD, Burish M, Dodick DW. Chronic versus episodic migraine: the 15-day threshold does not adequately reflect substantial differences in disability among the full spectrum of headache frequency. Harold G. Wolff Award Winner. Headache 2021;61:992-1003.
4. Trivedi M, Dumkrieger G, Chong CD, Dodick DW, Schwedt TJ. Impact of abuse on migraine-related sensory hypersensitivity symptoms: results from the American Registry for Migraine Research. Headache 2021;61:740-754.
5. Ishii R, Schwedt TJ, Kim SK, Dumkrieger G, Chong CD, Dodick DW. Effect of migraine on pregnancy planning: insights from the American Registry for Migraine Research. Mayo Clinic Proceedings 2020;95:2079-2089.
6. Pearl TA, Dumkrieger G, Chong CD, Dodick DW, Schwedt TJ. Impact of depression and anxiety symptoms on patient-reported outcomes in patients with migraine: results from the American Registry for Migraine Research (ARMR). Headache 2020;60:1910-1919.
7. Pearl TA, Dumkrieger G, Chong CD, Dodick DW, Schwedt TJ. Sensory hypersensitivity symptoms in migraine with aura vs. migraine without aura: results from the American Registry for Migraine Research (ARMR). Headache 2020;60:506-514.
8. Schwedt TJ, Digre K, Tepper SJ, Spare NM, Ailani J, Birlea M, Burish M, Mechtler L, Gottschalk C, Quinn AM, McGillicuddy L, Bance L, Dumkrieger G, Chong CD, Dodick DW. The American Registry for Migraine Research: Research Methods and Baseline Data for an Initial Patient Cohort. Headache. 2020 Feb;60(2):337-347. doi: 10.1111/head.13688. Epub 2019 Nov 22. PMID: 31755111.