Raising Money for
With your help, we’ve funded 94 migraine researchers in 12 countries.
We fund cutting-edge research that will help sufferers by adding to the understanding and treatment of migraine disease.
Read about our grants below. Click on the researcher’s name to learn more about the grant and to read the Final Report if the grant has been completed.
New Approach to Migraine Treatment Via Selective Enhancement of Endocannabinoids, Cristina Tassorelli, MD, PhD, Rashid Giniatullin, PhD, Juha Savinainen, PhD, C. Mondino National Institute of Neurology Foundation, Pavia, Italy
(2019 Impact Award) (Underway)
Identification of Novel Migraine Therapeutic Targets by Single Cell RNA Sequencing of Human Trigeminal Ganglia, William Renthal, MD, PhD, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
(2019 Impact Award) (Underway)
Genetic Analysis of mitochondrial DNA and nuclear encoded mitochondrial genes in familial migraine with aura, Lyn Griffiths, PhD, Queensland University of Technology, Australia (Underway)
Stress-and Triptan-Induced Latent Sensitization: Neural Dynamics Underlying Migraine and Medication Overuse Headache, Igor Spigelman. PhD, University of California, Los Angeles
Efficacy and Safety of CBD: THC combinations in migraine-like symptoms in mice, Anne-Sophie Wattiez, PhD, University of Iowa (Underway)
Efficacy of Inhaled Cannabis versus Placebo for the Acute Treatment of Migraine: a Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled, Cross-over trial, Nathaniel Schuster, MD, UC San Diego, CA (2018 Impact Award) (Underway)
Virtual Method for Assessment and Treatment of Chronic Headache (V-MATCH), Zubair Ahmed, MD, Cleveland Clinic, OH (Association of Migraine Disorders Grant) (Underway)
From Migraine Aura Loci to Aura Genes, Maija Wessman, PhD, and Mikko Kallela, MD, PhD, University of Helsinki, Finland (Runnin’ For Research Grant)
Out of My Head, a Migraine Documentary, Jacki Ochs and Susanna Styron, Human Arts Association, NY
Film adds to understanding migraine and its effects on patients, families, social relationships.
Endogenous Modulation and Central Sensitization in New Daily Persistent Headache (NDPH) in Children, Alyssa LeBel, MD, Boston Children’s Hospital, MA (2017 Heller Family Impact Award) (For Our Children Grant) (Canceled)
Low-throughput Evaluation of Novel, Selective CaV2.1 Inhibitors in Animal Models of Familial Hemiplegic Migraine: Modulation of Excitatory Neurotransmission and Analysis of Potential Therapeutic Value, Jose Fernandez-Fernandez, PhD, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain
Targeting TRPA1 Channels for Novel Migraine Therapeutics, Pierangelo Geppetti, MD, University of Florence, Italy
Oral Microbiome and Inflammation in Pediatric Headache, Blanca Marquez de Prado, PhD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, PA (For Our Children Grant) (Underway)
Oxytocin Receptors on Sphenopalatine Ganglia Neurons, David Yeomans, PhD, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA (Cancelled)
Investigating the Effect of High Frequency Stimulation over the Greater Occipital Nerve onto Trigeminal Pain Perception and Subgrouping Migraine Patients by Manual Examination – a Potential Marker to Predict Treatment Outcomes after Greater Occipital Nerve Block? Arne May, PhD, and Kerstin Lüdtke, PhD, University Medical Center Hamburg – Eppendorf, Germany
Shedding Light on Migraine: Exploring Novel Light Metrics as a Trigger of Migraine, Suzanne Bertisch, MD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA (Association of Migraine Disorders Grant)
Status Migrainosus – Differentiating between Responders and Non-responders in the Setup of Real-life Clinical Practice, Rami Burstein, PhD, and Brian Grosberg, MD
Hartford Healthcare Headache Center, CT (2016 Impact Award)
Microglial Proliferation in Women with Menstrual Migraines, Clas Linnman, PhD, Boston Children’s Hospital, MA (Cancelled)
BiTox – a Novel, Non-paralytic, Botulinum Toxin A Molecule for the Treatment of Chronic Migraine, Anna Andreou, PhD, Kings College, London, UK
Genomics of Migraine from the CHAMP study: DNA Polymorphism Identification, Andrew Hershey, MD, PhD, Cincinnati Children’s Headache Center, OH
Study focused on identifying whether previously found migraine polymorphisms also occurred in the kids in the study and found 2 of the gene changes that were different from the normal population were very common in the children and adolescents with migraine (For Our Children Grant)
A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Cross-over Study Evaluating the Efficacy and Safety of Timolol Ophthalmic Solution as an Acute Treatment of Migraine, Roger Cady, MD, Headache Care Center, Springfield, MO (Cancelled)
Phenotypic Identification of Drugs Derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine for Treating Migraine Headache, Xiaohui Wang, PhD, Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, China
Identified the active substances in two traditional Chinese medicines used to treat migraine. One was successfully tested in vitro, while the other could not be tested due to challenges in sugar chemistry.
MicroMIG: Searching for New Biomarkers in Migraine Using MicroRNA Expression Profile Analysis, (Association of Migraine Disorders Grant) Patricia Pozo-Rosich, MD, PhD, Vall d’Hebron University Hospital, Barcelona, Spain
Found a specific profile of miRNA’s in migraine, specifically: 5 significant differentially expressed miRNA’s between healthy controls and all migraineurs (CM+EM), 10 between controls and CM, and 8 between controls and EM.
Serum CGRP and NGF Levels in New Daily Persistent Headache to Identify Potential Biomarkers and Therapeutics Targets, Richard Lipton, MD, Kathleen Mullin, MD, Nathanial Schuster, MD, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY (Cancelled)
Investigation of the Serotonergic System in the Migraine Brain Using Positron Emission Tomography, Messoud Ashina, MD, PhD, Danish Headache Center, Copenhagen
Found both episodic and chronic migraine sufferers had higher serotonin levels than controls, and that migraine frequency wasn’t related to brain serotonin levels. Since both EM and CM sufferers had high levels of serotonin, it may be a biomarker for migraine.
Identification of Novel, Selective Voltage-gated CaV2.1 Calcium Channel Inhibitors which Reverse the Gain of Channel Function Produced by Hemiplegic Migraine CACNA1A Mutations, Jose Fernandez-Fernandez, PhD, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain
Identified 19 novel selective inhibitors of CaV2.1 capable of preventing the excessive activity of CaV2.1 channels produced by human mutations leading to Hemiplegic Migraine with minor side effects. Functionally characterized a CaV2.1 modulatory mechanism that may be a novel potential therapeutic target for migraine in general.
Use of Next Generation Sequencing Technology to Identify Novel Hemiplegic Migraine and Migraine Related Mutations, Lyn Griffiths, PhD, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
NGS genetic sequencing technology provides increased accuracy, reduced time and lower costs than standard Sanger technology. Identified new and known mutations in FHM, but 78% of the cases still had no definitive diagnosis, indicating there are other FHM causative genes yet to be identified. (Association of Migraine Disorders Grant)
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, Wayne Thomas, PhD, Cell Innovations, Australia. (Cancelled)
Intranasal Ketorolac versus Intravenous Ketorolac for Treatment of Migraine Headaches in Children: A Randomized Non-inferiority Clinical Trial, Daniel Tsze, MD, Columbia University Medical Center, NY (Cancelled)
Bringing Relief to Adolescents Naturally with Melatonin (BRAiN-M study), Amy Gelfand, MD, University of California, San Francisco
Showed that a home-based trial of melatonin for adolescent migraine prevention was feasible. Provided preliminary data showing melatonin promising and safe for decreasing migraine frequency in adolescents, but large study is needed to confirm (For Our Children Grant)
Developing a Pragmatic Human Model Suitable for Migraine Drug Testing Combined with the Study of Biochemical Changes During a Migraine Attack in Humans, Jes Olesen, MD, and Kumar Bhatt, PhD, Danish Headache Center, Copenhagen
Failed to create a human model for testing drug candidates. Found that drug induced migraine attacks did not respond the same way to sumatriptan as spontaneous attacks. Unable to identify specific biomarkers for migraine.
Identifying Genetic Differences between Monozygotic Twin Pairs Discordant for Migraine via Whole Genome Sequencing, Dale Nyholt, PhD, and Huiying Zhao, PhD, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Compiled collection of identical twin pairs discordant for migraine for validation of previously found migraine mutations and identification of epigenetic factors in migraine. Identified three genetic variants in the migraine twin not present in the healthy twin. (The Werber Family Grant)
Metformin for the Prevention of Episodic Migraine: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Cross-over Study, Amaal Starling, MD, Mayo Clinic – Phoenix, Arizona
Failed to find significant difference in the average number of headache days per month in the metformin-treated group compared to the placebo group.
Intracranial Pressure in Migraine Patients and Animal Models, Michel Lanteri-Minet, MD, CHU de Nice, France (Underway)
To Evaluate the Therapeutic Effects of Topical (Intra-nasal) Application of Cornmint Oil (Mentha Arvensis) in the Setting of an Acute Migraine. A Double-blinded, Randomized, Placebo-controlled, Cross-over Study, Robert Kaniecki, MD, University of Pittsburgh, PA (Cancelled)
Assessing Adherence to Guidelines for the Acute Treatment of Pediatric Migraine, Robert Nicholson, PhD, Mercy Health, St. Louis, MO
5 of 6 kids seeking care for migraine were not prescribed/recommended an evidence-based treatment medication. 1 in 6 were prescribed opioids. Shows critical need to increase physician awareness of optimal migraine care. (For Our Children Grant)
Prediction of Migraine Prevention Efficacy: Individualization of Treatment by Coupling Drug’s Mode of Action with Patient’s Mechanism of Pain Modulation, David Yarnitsky, MD, Yelena Granovsky, PhD, and Michal Granot, PhD, Technion Faculty of Medicine, Haifa, Israel
A questionnaire that assesses high sensitivity to external stimuli (used to diagnose sensory modulation disorder) predicted the efficacy of treatment with amitriptyline. This is a step toward personalized treatment.
Afferent Stimulation of the Trigeminovascular System Produces Central Sensitization via BDNF Signaling in the Nucleus Caudalis, Greg Dussor, PhD, and Ted Price, PhD, University of Texas at Dallas
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signaling within the brainstem causes sensitization in the nervous system of rats. BDNF is a potential target for new migraine therapeutics.
Immunotherapy for Migraine Headache, Yu-Qing Cao, PhD, Washington University Pain Center, St. Louis, MO
Tested in a mouse model, cytokines and chemokines TNF-α, MCP-1, and IL-6 likely contribute to the onset of a headache episode and therefore are potential targets for new migraine therapeutics. Passive immunotherapy (injection of neutralizing antibodies) is a good treatment strategy.
PACAP Antagonists as Novel Migraine Therapies, Robin Polt, PhD, and Frank Porreca, PhD, University of Arizona, Tucson
Concluded grant after 3 years when they couldn’t show antagonism at PAC₁, and even the “standard antagonist” PACAP₆₋₃₈ peptide only produced low potency antagonism. No antagonist molecule could be created to test in rats.
Studies of Gastroparesis in Monogenic Migraine Mouse Models, Robert Shapiro, MD, PhD, and Gary Mawe, PhD, University of Vermont College of Medicine
Genetic mutations that can increase migraine susceptibility do not also cause gastrointestinal motility abnormalities in mice. Unclear whether this applies to humans, so better to test them. (Association of Migraine Disorders Grant)
Examining the Role of Astrocytes in Migraine Using Optogenetic Methods, Serapio Baca, PhD, Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA
Characterized CSD using optogenetic techniques (using genetically modified cells to express light-sensitive ion channels to enable measurement of the effects). By targeting both astrocytes and neurons, started and tracked CSD without breaching the skull, making the model more useful for long term studies.
Generation of Mouse Models of Novel Casein Kinase Iδ Migraine Mutations, Louis Ptacek, MD, University of California, San Francisco
Created transgenic mice with specific mutations to test pathophysiology of migraine with aura.
N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor Glycine Coagonist Site Modulation as a Potential Treatment for Migraine in Adolescent and Adult Females, Patric Stanton, PhD, NY Medical College
Extended the work of his first grant on male rats to include adolescent and adult female rats, with the same findings that his novel compound neutralizes NMDR (involved in CSD).
Psychological Stressors and their Association with the Life-course of Migraine and its Comorbidity – a Longitudinal Study, Larus Gudmundsson, PhD, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD and University of Iceland
A self-administered migraine questionnaire was proven to be as valid as a neurologist interview in identifying migraine.
Targeting Glial Inhibition to Attenuate Chronic Migraine: an International Double-blind Randomized, Placebo Controlled Trial of Ibudilast, Paul Rolan, MD, University of Adelaide School of Medical Sciences, Australia
Found no treatment benefit with ibudilast, and worsening migraine was reported by more patients on the drug than on placebo.
Sex, Stress, and Migraine, KC Brennan, MD, and Dan Kaufmann, PhD, University of Utah, Salt Lake City
Stress causes physiological changes in the nervous system that appear to facilitate a migraine attack. These changes act disproportionately on females and those genetically disposed to migraine.
Role of TLR 4 and Glial Cells in Histamine and GTN Induced Migraine Mechanisms, Tony Yaksh, PhD, University of California, San Diego
The toll receptor TLR4 played an important part in initiating and maintaining migraine in mice. TLR4 could be an important therapeutic target.
Finding the Molecular Mechanism of Casein Kinase 1δ Mediated Migraine, Emily Bates, PhD, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Showed that female mice were more susceptible to migraine triggers than male mice, and concluded that estrogen signaling is likely to be a component of migraine progression. (Heftler Award)
Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) for the Acute Treatment of Migraine, Andrea Antal, PhD, and Walter Paulus, MD, University Medical Center, Göttingen, Germany
Transcranial electrical stimulation of the visual cortex did not abort acute migraine attacks except for menstrual migraine.
Whole Exome Sequencing as a Strategy for Gene Discovery in a Large Well Characterized Family with Migraine, F. Michael Cutrer, MD, Mayo Clinic – Rochester, MN
Found a single gene variant present in all migraineurs, both MA and MO, and none of the non-migraineurs, and found 4 more variants in MA subjects.
Out of My Head, a Migraine Documentary, Jacki Ochs and Susanna Styron, Human Arts Association, NY
MRF support helped the filmmakers to continue their work on the film.
Calcium Activated Chloride Channels as a Novel Target for the Treatment of Migraine, Michael Gold, PhD, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, PA
The Chloride channel may not be differentially expressed in dural afferents, but is differentially modulated, enabling this channel to drive long term changes in dural afferent excitability. While blocking the Chloride channel may be an effective therapy for the treatment of migraine, the second messenger cascades underlying inflammatory mediators in general, and CaMKII in particular, may provide a better target for the selective treatment of pain.
Investigating the Cortical Modulation of Trigeminocervical and Thalamic Function during Cortical Spreading Depression, Anna Andreou, PhD, University of California, San Francisco
Cortical Spreading Depression alters the firing of specific neurons and may induce central head pain. (Heftler Award)
Mechanisms of Blood-brain Barrier Dysfunction Induced Medication Overuse Headache, Colin Willis, PhD, University of New England – College of Osteopathic Medicine, Biddeford, ME
Prolonged triptan medication usage causes changes in the blood brain barrier that can lead to Medication Overuse Headache.
The Multidimensional Impact of Migraine in Adolescents Presenting to Specialty Care, Brandon Aylward, PhD, and Scott Powers, PhD, Cincinnati Children’s Headache Center, OH
A biobehavioral treatment program combining preventive medication and lifestyle education helped teenage sufferers. (For our Children Grant)
Efficacy of Behavioral Insomnia Treatment for Chronic Migraine: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study, Todd Smitherman, PhD, University of Mississippi
A brief cognitive behavioral therapy treatment targeting chronic migraineurs’ sleep problems produced increases in sleep efficiency and reduced frequency of attacks by half after 6 weeks.
N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor Glycine Coagonist Site Modulation as a Potential Treatment for Migraine, Patric Stanton, PhD, New York Medical College
In male rats, a novel pharmacological agent, GLYX-13, normalized the action of the brain receptor NMDAR, which is involved in cortical spreading depression, and might be useful as a new migraine treatment.
Preclinical Development of Nasal Insulin as a Therapy for Chronic Migraine, Richard Kraig, MD, PhD, University of Chicago Medical Center, OH
Nasal insulin acutely and for days after reduced susceptibility to cortical spreading depression in animals showing that enrichment-based environments like insulin may be a novel source of effective therapeutics against high-frequency and chronic migraine.
Endogenous Opioid Mechanisms in Chronic Migraine, Alexandre DaSilva, DDS, DMedSc, University of Michigan School of Dentistry
In response to clinical and experimental pain, there was high endogenous (internally occurring) opioid activation in chronic migraineurs’ brains during headache attacks, which was correlated with the severity of the attack, but it’s unclear whether the thalamic mu-opioid mechanism can be directly modulated to treat chronic migraine without significant side effects.
Neurosteroid Regulation of Cortical Spreading Depression, Trent Anderson, PhD, University of Arizona College of Medicine
Neurosteroids produced in the brain (of rats) make cortical spreading depression worse and predispose the brain to develop auras, so neurosteroids are a potential target for novel migraine treatments.
The Effect of the CGRP Receptor Antagonist BIBN4096BS on the Response to Trigeminal Nociception, Activation and Pro-inflammatory Cytokine Release, Marcela Romero-Reyes, DDS, PhD, New York University College of Dentistry
Developed a mouse model of trigeminal pain, then blocked CGRP receptors to show it decreased pain, confirming CGRP antagonists as potential migraine therapy. (Heftler Award)
The Role of Ionotropic Glutamate Receptor Genes in Migraine, Teresa Esposito, PhD, Institute of Genetics and Biophysics, Naples, Italy
Discovered 3 glutamate receptor gene variants strongly associated with migraine in humans. Glutamate receptor antagonists are a potential target for new migraine therapeutics.
Microglia and Cytokines Modulate Chronic Migraine, Richard Kraig, MD, PhD, University of Chicago Medical Center, IL
Microglia produce the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-α which plays a key role in transforming episodic migraine to chronic. The cytokine interleukin-11 inhibits TNF-α. These are potential targets for new migraine therapeutics.
The Effects of Calcium Channel Mutations on Trigeminal Ganglion Neurons Innervating the Dura, Yu-Qing Cao, PhD, Washington University Pain Center, St. Louis, MO
In a mouse model, found 3 mutations in calcium channels that led to hyper-excitability of neurons associated with migraine. These are potential targets for migraine treatment.
Identification of Genetic Determinants of the Association between Migraine and Cardiovascular Events: A Genome-Wide Association Study, Markus Schürks, MD, and Tobias Kurth, MD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA
Identified 5 genetic variants involved in the link between migraine and cardiovascular disease, particularly stroke, especially among women with migraine with aura.
Why Opioids Enhance Migraine Pain: the Puzzle Points to Glia, Julie Wieseler, PhD, and Linda Watkins, PhD, University of Colorado – Boulder
Developed medication overuse headache rodent model. Found that prior exposure to morphine increases migraine vulnerability and is dependent on glial activity, suggesting that morphine increases the effectiveness of the biochemical environment that creates enhanced pain states.
A Pilot Study of Family-based Cognitive-behavioral Therapy for Treating Chronic Pediatric Headache/Migraine and Comorbid Anxiety, Golda Ginsburg, PhD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Relaxation therapy both reduced migraine symptoms and increased perceived control over anxiety for children, but CBT was better. (For Our Children Grant)
A Behavioral Model of Menstrual Migraine, Nancy Berman, PhD, University of Kansas Medical Center
Developed a rodent behavioral model to understand the biological basis for sex differences in migraine. Found that genes related to pain were regulated at much higher rates in females than males, which means optimal migraine treatment may be different for females and males.
Mapping Functional Brain Circuits in a Rodent Migraine Model of Central Sensitization, David Borsook, MD, PhD, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Functional MRI is a viable way to study changes in brain network connectivity after inducing headache-like symptoms in a rat model.
Central Mechanisms of Opioids in the Transformation of Migraine, Andrew Charles, MD, UCLA
Morphine has complex effects on the brain excitabilty underlying migraine. Found two other opioids (targeting the delta opioid receptor) that have fewer side effects and inhibit Cortical Spreading Depression that are potential candidates for new migraine therapies.
Investigation of the Genetic Basis of Migraine: Building a DNA Library in Migraine Sufferers, F. Michael Cutrer, MD, Mayo Clinic – Rochester, MN
Established a comprehensive migraine specific DNA library, with 5512 genetic samples from MO, MA, and healthy control patients from Rochester Mayo.
Migraine in Middle Age and Late Life: A Longitudinal Analysis of Factors Related to Migraine Prognosis in a Large Population-based Cohort, Ann Scher, PhD, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD
Migraineurs with aura in middle-age (especially women) are more likely than others to have stroke-like lesions in their brain in later life.
Behavioral Model of Medication Overuse Headache, Frank Porreca, PhD, University of AZ, Tucson
Repeated morphine treatments in rats caused persistent neuroadaptive changes (like MOH) and a large increase in CGRP. Blocking CGRP may be effective in treating MOH.
Glial Activation and the Chronification of Headache, Michael Oshinsky, PhD, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
Activating neuroglia in the trigeminal nucleus caudalis of rats contributes to chronic facial alloydinia, which shows that treatments designed to reverse this activation might help sufferers.
Towards a Migraine Genetics Population Laboratory: Building on the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention (AMPP) Study, Richard Lipton, MD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY
Demonstrated the feasibility of collecting usable DNA saliva samples from a large group of people by mail, a necessary step in starting a genetics population library to study migraine genetics.
There’s still so much to learn!
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