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What is migraine?

Migraine is often described as a severe recurring headache with an intense throbbing pain on one side of the head, although l/3 of the attacks can affect both sides. Attacks generally last between 4 and 72 hours and are often, but not always, accompanied by visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound and light, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face. In 15-20% of cases, neurological symptoms occur in advance of the actual headache. These symptoms, which last 20-60 minutes, are referred to as the aura phase of the headache. Of course, everyone is different, and symptoms vary by person and sometimes by attack.

Why is migraine such a challenging disease to treat?

Migraine is difficult to treat because it is a moving target: symptoms are hard to evaluate and can change from one attack to the next. Diagnosing someone with migraine can be quite difficult; since it presents in many different ways, migraine is often misdiagnosed or even undiagnosed. It is often a matter of eliminating other causes for the headache and analyzing the reported symptoms. Some people suffer from several different types of migraine, making diagnosis and treatment that much more difficult.

What are the social and economic implications of migraine?

The social and economic costs are enormous. Approximately 30 million Americans – roughly 10% of the total population – suffer from migraine. American employers lose more than $13 billion each year as a result of 113 million lost work days due to headache or migraine. And socially, in addition to the attack-related disability, many sufferers live in fear, knowing that at any time an attack could disrupt their ability to work, care for their families or meet social obligations.
Who is most affected by migraine?

Migraine affects people of all ages. However, women are disproportionately affected, with approximately 22 million sufferers in the United States. Three times as many women as men suffer from migraine in adulthood. Furthermore, many people are surprised to learn that about 10% of school-age children suffer from migraine. Half of all migraine sufferers have their first attack before the age of 12. Such children lose an average of 7.8 days of school each year, compared to 3.7 days lost for children without migraine. 

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What is the Migraine Research Foundation (MRF)?

The Migraine Research Foundation (formerly The Migraine and Pain Fund) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to ending the debilitating pain of migraine by funding scientific research into its causes and better treatment. More information about the Foundation and how to contribute to its efforts can be found at

How is MRF different from the other migraine and headache organizations in the United States?
MRF is the only migraine and headache organization whose primary mission is to fund groundbreaking scientific research that will help us understand the underlying causes of migraine and lead to the discovery of new effective treatments for migraine sufferers. MRF intends to become the largest private funder of migraine research in the United States.
How is MRF filling the funding gap?
In spite of the serious and debilitating effects of migraine, it is still a misunderstood disease, and basic science research into its underlying causes and mechanisms is sorely lacking. At present, NIH funding for migraine research is $13 million – less than 0.05% of the annual NIH research budget. Migraine receives less than 1/7 of epilepsy research funding, despite migraine being 12 times more prevalent. MRF was created to fill this critical gap in migraine research.
Who is behind MRF?
MRF was founded by Stephen Semlitz and Cathy Glaser, whose family has struggled with the devastating effects of migraine for many years. Guiding the efforts of the Migraine Research Foundation is a medical advisory board that includes leading neurologists and scientists from across the country and is chaired by Dr. Joel Saper of the Michigan Headache & Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Who are the members of MRF’s medical advisory board?
In addition to Dr. Saper, MRF’s medical advisory board includes Dr. Rami Burstein (Harvard University), Dr. F Michael Cutrer (Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN), Dr. David W. Dodick (Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ), Dr. Peter J. Goadsby (University of California – San Francisco), Dr. Richard Lipton (Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY), and Dr. Stephen D. Silberstein (Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA).
Where does MRF’s funding come from and how are overhead costs met?
The Foundation has the support of a private donor base — including individuals, foundations and corporations – dedicated to funding promising migraine research.  The Foundation is actively growing its base of philanthropic support in order to continue expanding its capabilities to support scientists who are engaging in groundbreaking migraine research.  MRF’s overhead is completely funded for the first three years by generous benefactors, so that every dollar raised funds research.  
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How does MRF determine which grants it will fund?
MRF has a distinguished medical advisory board comprised of seven of the nation’s preeminent migraine doctors and researchers. They review and discuss all grant proposals, considering their achievability and relevance to advancing the science of migraine medicine, and advise MRF’s Board of Directors in making funding decisions.
Who was awarded grants in 2007, and what will they be researching?
 The 2007 grant recipients and their research are:
• Richard Lipton, MD Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY Towards a Migraine Genetics Population Laboratory: Building on the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention Study
• Michael Oshinsky, Ph.D., Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA Glial Activation and the Chronification of Headache
• Frank Porreca, Ph.D., University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ Behavioral Model of Medication Overuse Headache
• Ann Scher, Ph.D., Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD Migraine in Middle Age and Late Life: A Longitudinal Analysis of Factors Related to Migraine Prognosis in a Large Population-Based Cohort
How much in grant money will be awarded in 2008?
MRF has already committed to more than doubling the funds available for research grants in 2008 to at least $500,000.

When will the RFP for 2008 grants be announced?

The RFP for the 2008 grants has already been posted. The deadline for proposals is April 2, 2008.
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