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There is no condition of such magnitude - yet so shrouded in myth, misinformation, and mistreatment - as migraine.
— Joel R. Saper, MD, Chair, MRF Medical Advisory Board

Research We Support
Completed Research
Meet Our Researchers

The Migraine Research Foundation is the only organization whose sole purpose is to raise funds for innovative scientific research to discover the causes, improve treatments, and find a cure.

We need your support to continue funding innovative research. Donate now.


In 2015, we awarded research grants to:

Messoud Ashina, MD, PhD, DMSc
Danish Headache Center, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Investigation of the serotonergic system in the migraine brain using positron emission tomography

Investigating serotonin brain levels in episodic and chronic migraine patients by positron emission tomography to show a possible relationship between the level of serotonin and the frequency of migraine attacks.


Patricia Pozo-Rosich, MD, PhD
Vall d’Hebron University Hospital, Barcelona, Spain

microMIG: searching for new biomarkers in migraine using microRNA expression profile analysis

Evaluating the miRNA expression profile in blood cells from migraine patients to identify possible biomarkers and find potential therapeutic targets.


 Nathaniel Schuster, MD
Montefiore Headache Center, Bronx, NY
The Association of Migraine Disorders Grant

Serum CGRP and NGF levels in New Daily Persistent Headache to identify potential biomarkers and therapeutics targets

Studying whether CGRP or NGF levels are elevated in serum of New Daily Persistent Headache patients compared to those with chronic migraine and normal controls.


Xiaohui Wang, PhD
Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, China

Phenotypic Identification of Drugs Derived from Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM) for Treating Migraine Headache

Identifying drugs derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine for treating migraine.



We awarded a record 10 grants in 2014!

José M. Fernández-Fernández, PhD
Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain

Identification of novel, selective voltage-gated CaV2.1 calcium channel inhibitors which reverse the gain of channel function produced by Hemiplegic Migraine CACNA1A mutations

Identifying the novel, selective inhibitors of a key element in the neurotransmission process to correct its increased function, which causes most cases of Hemiplegic Migraine.


Amy Gelfand, MD
University of California, San Francisco

Bringing Relief to Adolescents Naturally with Melatonin (BRAiN-M study)

Examining whether melatonin, a safe and natural supplement, is effective for migraine prevention in 12-17-year-olds.


Lyn Griffiths, PhD
Queensland University of Technology, Australia
The Association of Migraine Disorders Grant

Use of Next Generation Sequencing Technology to Identify Novel Hemiplegic Migraine and Migraine Related Mutations

Detecting genes that play a role in migraine to develop better diagnostics and therapeutics.


Robert Kaniecki, MD
University of Pittsburgh, PA

To evaluate therapeutic effects of topical (intra-nasal) application of cornmint oil (mentha arvensis) in the setting of an acute migraine

Evaluating the therapeutic effects of intra-nasal application of cornmint oil for acute migraine.


Michel Lanteri-Minet, MD
CHU de Nice, France

Intracranial pressure in migraine patients and animal models

Exploring intracranial pressure in migraine patients and animal models.



Dale R. Nyholt, PhD and Huiying Zhao, PhD
Queensland University of Technology, Australia
The Werber Family Grant

Identifying genetic differences between monozygotic twin pairs discordant for migraine via whole genome sequencing

Finding novel genetic risk factors for migraine by searching for genetic differences between identical twins, where one suffers from migraine and the other doesn’t.

Jes Olesen, MD, and Deepak Kumar Bhatt, PhD
Danish Headache Center, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Developing a pragmatic human model suitable for migraine drug testing combined with the study of biochemical changes during a migraine attack in humans

Developing a human model suitable for migraine drug testing and studying biochemical changes during a migraine attack.


Amaal Starling, MD
Mayo Clinic, Phoenix

Metformin for the Prevention of Episodic Migraine

Investigating the use of metformin, a well-established, safe, anti-diabetic medication for the prevention of migraine.


Wayne Thomas, PhD
Cell Innovations, Australia

A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, proof-of-concept study of the safety and efficacy of autologous stromal vascular fraction cells, in patients with moderate to severe chronic migraine headache

Testing whether Stromal Vascular Fraction stem cell therapy will significantly decrease the frequency and severity of chronic migraines.

Daniel S. Tsze, MD
Columbia University, NY

Intranasal ketorolac versus intravenous ketorolac for treatment of migraine headaches in children

Studying how well ketorolac works when given intranasally compared to intravenously for treating migraine in children.


In 2013, MRF Research Grants were awarded to:

Serapio M. Baca, PhD
Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA

Examining the role of astrocytes in migraine using optogenetic methods

Studying the role that astrocytes (cells in the brain and spinal cord) play
in migraine pathophysiology.


Yu-Qing Cao, PhD
Washington University Pain Center, St. Louis, MO

Immunotherapy for migraine headache

Investigating whether headaches alter the expression of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines, generating neutralizing antibodies against them, and testing whether the antibodies can block and/or prevent the headache-like behavior in mice.


Greg Dussor, PhD and Ted Price, PhD
The University of Texas at Dallas

Afferent stimulation of the trigeminovascular system
produces central sensitization via BDNF signaling in
the nucleus caudalis

Testing whether afferent signaling in the trigeminovascular system increases BDNF signaling in the nucleus caudalis resulting in central sensitization of headache pathways.

Robert Nicholson, PhD
Mercy Clinic Headache Center, St. Louis, MO

Assessing adherence to guidelines for the acute treatment of pediatric migraine

Assessing adherence to evidence-based guidelines for the acute treatment of pediatric migraine across treatment settings and geographic locations.


Robin Polt, PhD and Frank Porreca, PhD
University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

PACAP antagonists as novel migraine therapies

Investigating PACAP receptor antagonists as an effective migraine therapy.


Louis J. Ptáček, MD
University of California, San Francisco

Generation of mouse models of novel casein kinase 1δ migraine mutations

Developing new mouse models of migraine with two different genetic mutations in casein kinase 1δ to establish these as measures of migraine-related physiology.


Robert Shapiro, MD, PhD and Gary Mawe, PhD
University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
The Association of Migraine Disorders Grant

Studies of gastroparesis in monogenic migraine mouse models

Investigating whether changes in the brain that occur during migraine are also expressed in the nervous system of the GI tract by studying mice carrying genetic mutations that increase migraine susceptibility to see if they also have changes in gastrointestinal function.

David Yarnitsky, MD, Yelena
Granovsky, PhD,
and Michal Granot, PhD
Technion Faculty of Medicine, Haifa, Israel

Prediction of migraine prevention efficacy: Individualization of treatment by coupling drug’s mode of action with patient’s mechanism of pain modulation

Assessing migraineurs’ pain modulation dysfunction in an attempt to personalize and optimize migraine prevention.


In 2012, MRF Research Grants were awarded to:

K. C. Brennan, MD and Dan Kaufmann, PhD
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Sex, Stress, and Migraine

Testing the effects of stress on cortical spreading depression in mice and examining the effect of the potential anti-migraine compound SPD.


Larus S. Gudmundsson, PhD
Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD/University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland 

Psychological Stressors and Their Association with the Life-course of Migraine and its Comorbidity – a Longitudinal Study

Developing and validating a migraine-specific questionnaire to add to a comprehensive population-based study on stress and comorbidity of 100,000 Icelanders.


Paul Rolan, MD
School of Medical Sciences, University of Adelaide, Australia

Targeting Glial Inhibition to Attenuate Chronic Migraine: an International Double-blind Randomized, Placebo-controlled Trial of Ibudilast

Determining the efficacy of ibudilast in the treatment of patients with chronic migraine.


Patric Stanton, PhD

New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY

N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor Glycine Coagonist Site Modulation as a Potential Treatment for Migraine in Adolescent and Adult Females

Testing whether GLYX-13 can raise the threshold or prevent spreading depression in female rats and whether its effects are altered by estrogen.


Tony L. Yaksh, PhD
UCSD Medical Center, University of CA, San Diego

Role of TLR 4 and Glial Cells in Histamine and GTN Induced Migraine Mechanisms

Studying the relevance of TLR 4 in histamine and GTN induced pain behavior.



In 2011, MRF Research Grants were awarded to:

Andrea Antal, PhD and Walter Paulus, MD
University Medical Center, Georg-August University, Göttingen, Germany             
Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation for the Acute Treatment of Migraine

Studying the effects of inhibitory transcranial alternating current stimulation as an effective non-pharmaceutical acute treatment for chronic migraine.

F. Michael Cutrer, MD
The Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

Whole Exome Sequencing as a  Strategy for Gene Discovery in  a Large Well Characterized Family with Migraine

Using the newest sequencing technology for gene discovery in migraine.

Michael S. Gold, PhD
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Calcium Activated Chloride Channels as a Novel Target for the Treatment of Migraine

Determining the molecular identity of the ion channels that underlie pain receptor sensitization and blocking them as a first step in the development of a novel target for migraine treatment.

Jacki Ochs and Susanna Styron
Filmmakers, Human Arts Assn., New York, NY

The Migraine Project (working title)

Producing a feature-length documentary exploring the subject of migraine headaches.

To watch the trailer, click here.

2011 Thomas E. Heftler Migraine Research Award

Emily Bates, PhD
Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

Finding the Molecular Mechanism of Casein Kinase 1δ  Mediated Migraine

Studying the effect of a genetic mutation responsible for migraine with aura in casein kinase 1δ on estrogen signaling.

In 2010, MRF Research Grants were awarded to:

Trent Anderson, PhD
University of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ

Neurosteroid Regulation of Cortical Spreading Depression

Investigating how hormones produced and acting in the brain contribute to the development of migraine.

Brandon Aylward, PhD & Scott Powers, PhD
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati, OH

The Multidimensional Impact of Migraine in Adolescents Presenting to Specialty Care

Examining the broad impact of pediatric migraine in adolescents presenting to specialty care.

Alexandre F. DaSilva, DDS, DMedSc
University of Michigan School of Dentistry, Ann Arbor, MI

Endogenous Opioid Mechanisms in Chronic Migraine

Examining the effects of chronic migraine and its influence on neurotransmitter function of the endogenous opioid system, one of the main mechanisms associated with chronic pain modulation.

Richard Kraig, MD, PhD
University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, IL

Preclinical Development of Nasal Insulin as a Therapy for Chronic Migraine

Studying a mechanism by which brain activity can retard migraine susceptibility

Todd Smitherman, PhD
University of Mississippi, University, MS

Efficacy of Behavioral Insomnia Treatment for Chronic Migraine: A Randomized
Controlled Pilot Study

Testing the efficacy of a brief behavioral insomnia treatment on headache and sleep symptoms among patients with chronic migraine and insomnia.

Patric Stanton, PhD
New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY

N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor Glycine Coagonist Site Modulation as a Potential Treatment for Migraine

Investigating new therapies for preventing the wave of neural depolarization associated with migraine

Colin Willis, PhD
University of New England, Biddeford, ME

Mechanisms of Blood-brain Barrier Dysfunction Induced Medication Overuse Headache

Examining changes in the integrity of the blood-brain barrier to see if they explain the increased likelihood of medication induced headache attacks.

2010 Thomas E. Heftler Migraine Research Award

Anna Andreou, PhD
University of California, San Francisco, CA

Corticothalamic Feedback and Trigeminothalamic Sensory Processing During Cortical Spreading Depression-Relevance to Migraine with Aura

Investigating activation of the thalamus during cortical spreading depression to better understand the development of migraine and auras.

Read more about Dr. Andreou in
Meet Our Researchers.


In 2009, MRF Research Grants were awarded to:

Yu-Qing Cao, PhD
Washington University Pain Center, St. Louis, MO

The Effects of Calcium Channel Mutations on Trigeminal Ganglion Neurons Innervating the Dura

Studying the effects of calcium channel mutations on nerves in the dura which contribute to migraine.

Read about Dr. Cao’s findings in
Completed Research

Teresa Esposito, PhD
Institute of Genetics and Biophysics, Naples, Italy

The Role of Ionotropic Glutamate Receptor Genes in Migraine

Identifying glutamate receptor genes which may be associated with migraine with aura.

Read the
manuscript of Dr. Espositio’s research.
Read about Dr. Esposito’s findings in
Completed Research


Golda Ginsburg, PhD
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD

A Pilot Study of Family-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Treating
Chronic Pediatric Headache/Migraine and Comorbid Anxiety

Testing a novel cognitive behavioral therapy model for children with migraine and comorbid anxiety.

Richard Kraig, MD, PhD
University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, IL

Microglia and Cytokines Modulate Chronic Migraine

Investigating how inflammatory proteins alter brain excitability and lead to chronic migraine.

Read more about Dr. Kraig in
Meet Our Researchers
Read about Dr. Kraig’s findings in Completed Research


Markus Schürks, MD, MSc & Tobias Kurth, MD, ScD
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA

Identification of Genetic Determinants of the Association Between Migraine and Cardiovascular Events: A Genome-Wide Association Study

Identifying genetic risk factors for cardiovascular events in women with migraine from the Women’s Health Study.

Read about the findings of Dr. Schurks and Dr. Kurth in Completed Research


Julie Wieseler, PhD & Linda Watkins, PhD
University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO

Why Opioids Enhance Migraine Pain: The Puzzle Points to Glia

Studying whether glial inhibitors improve the effectiveness of opioid treatment for migraine.



2009 Thomas E. Heftler Migraine Research Award

Marcela Romero-Reyes, DDS, PhD
NYU School of Dentistry, New York, NY

The effect of the CGRP receptor antagonist BIBN4096BS on the response to trigeminal nociception, activation and pro-inflammatory cytokine release
Using a new behavioral model of craniofacial pain in mice to expand the understanding of pain regulation and help in the development of improved preventive migraine treatments.

Read more about Dr. Romero-Reyes in Meet Our Researchers


To learn more about MRF‘s previous grant award winners, click here.


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