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Welcome to the website for the International Headache Society

The International Headache Society (IHS) is the world's leading membership organisation for those with a professional commitment to helping people affected by headache. As a charity, the purpose of IHS is to advance headache science, education, and management, and promote headache awareness worldwide.

This site promotes the Society and its activities, and is the home of the Society's international journal Cephalalgia. We welcome Society members and all who work or seek information in the field of headache.

Messoud Ashina
President, International Headache Society

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IHS in 2019 - Honorary Secretary's Report

2019 was another very busy year for IHS with many activities and key publications, and the most successful International Headache Congress for many years. The most important activities are listed below. Any comments are welcome (see my email address at the end of this report).

IHC 2019, Dublin

The 19th International Headache Congress (IHC) held in Dublin in September proved to be our most successful congress for many years. Over 2,000 delegates attended, the highest number since 2003, and enjoyed an incredibly diverse and rich programme covering all topics of headache medicine through teaching courses, plenary sessions, 'one topic, two views' sessions, lunchtime and parallel sessions, and satellite symposia. Oral presentations from submitted abstracts highlighted the recent exciting developments in headache medicine and over 500 posters were displayed, the best of which were selected for presentation as e-posters.

The IHS Juniors Group was also active throughout the congress, the highlight of which was the Headache Science Excellence Tournament, an event which has become a true IHC tradition. Six presenters were selected in a blinded fashion based on the content of their submitted abstract and two winners were selected by the audience: one for a clinical research presentation and one for basic research. The presentation award winners were Mohammad Al-Mahdi Al-Karagholi from Copenhagen, Denmark (Clinical science) and Zach Bertels from the University of Illinois at Chicago, USA (Basic science).

The Juniors group also facilitated the attendance of over 40 young clinicians and researchers from all over the world, especially from developing countries, through travel grants and held networking events during the congress.

IHS Special Recognition Award

The 2019 Special Recognition Award was given to Fumihiko Sakai during the IHC Opening Ceremony in Dublin. Professor Sakai was President of IHS from 2005 to 2007 and Congress Chair of the 12th IHC held in Kyoto, Japan, in 2005. He founded and was Chair of the Asian Regional Consortium for Headache from 2009 until 2016, and organised the first IHS Headache Master School in Asia in Japan in 2013. Subsequent Asian Master Schools have proved very successful and educated young researchers and physicians from all over the Asian region. Professor Sakai led the epidemiology and impact study on employees with migraine within Fujitsu Japan, Korea, and Philippines, which was endorsed by IHS and the World Health Organization–Asia-Pacific Region. The results of this study and his participation in the IHS Global Patient Advocacy Coalition (IHS-GPAC) led to him approaching Fujitsu regarding an employee headache care programme, led by IHS-GPAC in conjunction with the Japanese Headache Society and the Japan Patient Advocacy Coalition.


The Clinical Trials Committee has published two sets of guidelines: 'Guidelines of the International Headache Society for controlled trials of acute treatment of migraine attacks in adults: Fourth edition' and 'Guidelines of the International Headache Society for controlled trials of preventive treatment of migraine in children and adolescents, 1st edition'. Junior members of the Committee also published 'Adherence to the 2008 IHS guidelines for controlled trials of drugs for the preventive treatment of chronic migraine in adults’.

Future guidelines to be published include a revision of preventive treatment of episodic migraine (expected publication summer 2020), controlled trials on neuromodulation in migraine, controlled trials for idiopathic intracranial hypertension, and a revision of acute and preventive treatment of cluster headache.

Additionally Arne May has worked closely with a collaborative group consisting of members of the Orofacial and Head Pain Special Interest Group (OFHP SIG) of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), the International Network for Orofacial Pain and Related Disorders Methodology (INfORM), and the American Academy of Orofacial Pain (AAOP) to develop the International Classification of Orofacial Pain (ICOP). This was published in Cephalalgia in February 2020.

The ICHD-3 has now been translated into Brazilian Portuguese, Bulgarian, Chinese, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish.

All IHS published guidelines and ICHD translations are freely available on the IHS and Cephalalgia websites.

Cephalalgia and Cephalalgia Reports

IHS was delighted to see the Cephalalgia impact factor for 2018 rise to 4.438 (2017: 3.882). Cephalalgia is now ranked 35 out of 199 in Clinical Neurology and 64 out of 257 in Neuroscience journals.

Cephalalgia Reports, the open-access silhouette title to Cephalalgia providing an international forum for original research papers, review articles, clinical perspectives, case reports, technical reports and short communications, was launched in 2018 and now has 47 published articles. The publisher is currently applying for PubMed entry so the journal can start collecting citations.

Please consider publishing your research or views in Cephalalgia Reports. The journal actively encourages high quality papers in emerging observations with translational potential not yet realised, reports limited to regional relevance which may validate and add to existing studies, RCTs with negative outcomes, confirmatory studies, technical reports, articles with a more clinical emphasis, pilot trials which may stimulate therapeutic innovation and scientifically rigorous pathophysiological and pharmacological studies.

Please visit the Cephalalgia Reports website if you would like to submit your work to this exciting new publication.

IHS Global Patient Advocacy Summit / Global Patient Advocacy Coalition

Following the hugely successful 1st Global Patient Advocacy Symposium (GPAS) held in Vancouver, Canada, in September 2017, which brought together patients, patient advocates, patient advocacy organisations, healthcare professionals, the world's leading professional neurology, headache, and pain societies, the World Health Organization, pharmaceutical manufacturers, scientists, and regulatory agencies to advance issues of importance to patients affected by headache worldwide, and subsequent publication of the Vancouver Declaration on Global Headache Patient Advocacy published in Cephalalgia, a Global Patient Advocacy Coalition (IHS-GPAC) was formed and a second GPAS held in Dublin prior to the IHC.
The mission of IHS-GPAC is to help implement optimal standards of care for those affected by migraine and other headache disorders and raise awareness of their impact on individuals and society. Its current activities are focused on engaging and partnering with global employers to raise awareness of and reduce the stigma surrounding migraine and other headache disorders, while providing education, resources and workplace initiatives for employers and employees that will provide care for those in need and improve quality of life for those impacted. Ultimately the resources and key learnings from these initiatives will be used to engage local advocates in regions around the world to implement similar workplace programmes with local employers.
The proceedings from GPAS II will be published as the Dublin Declaration in 2020.

Grants and fellowships

IHS was pleased to continue to award grants and fellowships to junior colleagues in 2019.

IHS Fellowship

Inge Loonen, Netherlands. Research title: The link between migraine aura and cerebrovascular endothelial dysfunction. Institution: Harvard Medical School-Massachusetts General Hospital – mentor: Cenk Ayata
Connar Westgate, UK. Research title: The search for disease mechanisms and new drug targets in idiopathic intracranial hypertension. Institution: Danish Headache Center – mentor: Sajedeh Eftekhari

IHS-American Brain Foundation/American Academy of Neurology Clinical Research Training Scholarship in Headache

Faisal Amin, Denmark. Research title: Streamlining clinical management and neuroimaging for precision diagnosis of post-traumatic headache

IHS Headache Trainee Programme

Khatia Gvantseladze, Georgia. Institution: Danish Headache Center – mentor: Messoud Ashina

IHS Short-Stay Scholarships

Gunjan Kumar, India. Institution: Tallaght Hospital, Dublin – mentor: Sean O'Dowd
Agaath Hedina Manickam, India. Institution: Beaumont Hospital, Dublin – mentor: Martin Ruttledge
Ana Podgorac, Serbia. Institution: Mater Hospital, Dublin – mentor: Roisin Lonergan

IHS research grants

For the first time the IHS Board opened applications for research grants for scientific projects. Two projects were selected from over 30 applications received, each receiving € 75,000:
Menstrual migraine: estrogen influences migraine susceptibility by affecting the balance of oxytocin and CGRP signaling. Principle investigator: Kristian A Haanes. Co-investigators: Lars Edvinsson (Lund, Sweden), Diana Krause (Irvine, USA). Research location: Glostrup Research Park, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
BIOMIGRAINE: A multidisciplinary approach to the identification of BIOmarkers of MIGRAINE: a proof of concept study based on the stratification of responders to CGRP monoclonal antibodies. Principle investigator: Patricia Pozo Rosich. Co-investigators: Marta Torres-Ferrus (Barcelona, Spain), Cristina Tassorelli and Roberto de Icco (Pavia, Italy), Arne May and Christian Ziegeler (Hamburg, Germany). Research location: Headache Clinical Unit & Research Group, Vall d’Hebron Institute of Research, Barcelona, Spain

Educational activities

The 6th European International Headache Academy (iHEAD) was held in Dublin in September, immediately prior to the IHC. This year the academy was opened up to invite participants from all over the world and 110 delegates representing 31 countries attended.

An IHS Headache Master School was held in Colombia in October 2019, organised by the Colombian Neurology Society in collaboration with the IHS Education Committee. Over 100 delegates attended from Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Chile and Bolivia.

Visiting Professors were sent to teach in Nepal, Iran, Philippines and Kyrgyz Republic.

World Brain Day dedicated to migraine – 22 July 2019

The World Federation of Neurology (WFN) World Brain Day 2019 was dedicated to migraine. Many events took place worldwide including a webinar on 22 July with a panel of esteemed specialists and advocates including David Dodick (IHS), William Carroll, Wolfgang Grisold and Tissa Wijeratne (WFN), Audrey Craven (Migraine Association of Ireland), and Elaine Jones (American Academy of Neurology). This can be viewed on the World Brain Day website. Headache societies and patient organisations around the world were involved with various activities and #worldbrainday trended on social media platforms.


In September 2019 a new Board was elected. Messoud Ashina succeeded Lars Edvinsson as President, Cristina Tassorelli joined as President-elect, and the three elected Trustees, Fayyaz Ahmed, Gianluca Coppola and Alexandra Sinclair, took up office. The Board has also appointed four co-opted members to ensure global representation: Mi Ji Lee (South Korea), Marco Lisicki (Argentina), Aynur Özge (Turkey) and Kirill Skorobogatykh (Russia).

There were also new Committee Chair appointments as terms ended: Peter Goadsby was appointed as Chair of the Classification Committee to succeed Jes Olesen who has served for over 30 years and overseen publication of all three versions of the International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD); following her election as President-elect, Cristina Tassorelli has stepped down as Chair of the Clinical Trials Committee and Gisela Terwindt was appointed as the new Chair; the Board agreed to appoint a Co-Chair for the Education Committee and Henrik Winther Schytz was appointed – he will serve with Allan Purdy for 2 years, after which Allan will retire; Anne Ducros has succeeded Luiz Paolo de Queiroz as Chair of the Membership Committee.

The Primary Care Special Interest Group was disbanded.


In 2019 we had the largest ever number of members – it is hoped IHS can sustain this high level of membership members in future years.


All these activities and achievements would have been impossible without the help of Board members, Committee Chairs, and other IHS members who do a great deal of voluntary work to ensure these activities are professionally executed, and without whom the society could not function. On behalf of the society I extend my thanks to them, and to the IHS administration and finance teams, and the congress organiser.

More detail on the activities highlighted above can be found in the Newsletters on the IHS website. IHS welcomes comments or proposals for IHS activities – please email me with any suggestions you may have.

Stefan Evers
University of Münster and Krankenhaus Lindenbrunn, Münster, Germany


To read the Presidential letter, September 2019, please click HERE


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