Patients make all the difference

The National Institutes of Health has allocated $20 million for migraine research in 2016. This level of funding has remained steady since 2014 and is projected to stay the same for 2017. The chart below lists some of the diseases with disability profiles similar to migraine. If both cancer and migraine patients experience similar levels of disability, then why does cancer research gets over $5,000 million and migraine a mere $20 million? Some might say it’s because cancer is fatal. Okay, then let’s compare migraine to another disease that isn’t life-threatening. Why does arthritis research get $222 million?

We got our answer back in 2014 when the NIH invited a group of headache researchers to discuss the need for increased funding for headache and migraine research. One patient advocate was also invited to represent all headache patients (migraine, cluster headache, etc.). NIH staff members pointed out that other diseases that have garnered strong public and political support have all had one thing in common – a strong patient group leading the fight. Then they asked our advocate a very pointed question…

Where is your patient group?
If your patients don’t care, why should we?

Think about it. The American Cancer Society wields a lot of power and raises millions for cancer research. So does the American Heart Association, Susan G. Komen Foundation, and countless others for Parkinson’s, HIV/AIDs, even autism. Patients got it all started. After all, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

“We need a group like that!” you cry.

Well guess what? In response to that meeting, the American Headache and Migraine Association (AHMA) was founded. If you have migraine or any other headache disorder, AHMA is fighting for you.

Isn’t that what does?

No, it doesn’t. Websites like and social media support groups exist to provide patient education and a sense of belonging. AHMA is different. AHMA works to improve public perception of migraine, provide public education, lobby for political support (and the research funding to go with it), and raise money to fund even more research for better treatments and a cure. It is only as strong and effective as its members. To really make a difference in the way migraine is perceived, we need to band together. A cure will not be found by hoping that someone else puts up the money and does the hard work. Historically, diseases that get research dollars and public support are the ones whose patients make the most noise. That can only happen if we band together and speak with one voice.

Make your voice count.

Posting online, sharing your favorite articles, and participating in support groups is great, but it won’t improve public perception or get us any closer to a cure. Become part of the solution. Join AHMA today.

If you’d like to know more, visit

2016 NIH Funding for migraine and diseases with similar disability profiles.

Cancer$5,652 million
HIV/AIDS$3,000 million
Diabetes$1,044 million
Breast cancer$699 million
Depression$406 million
Lung cancer$362 million
Colorectal cancer$321 million
Brain cancer$310 million
Asthma$289 million
Arthritis$222 million
Autism$216 million
Child leukemia$161 million
Epilepsy$145 million
COPD$100 million
MS$98 million
Lupus$93 million
Crohn’s$69 million
Uterine cancer$54 million
ALS$52 million
ADHD$43 million
Migraine$20 million

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

More on this topic

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.