AMD’s Year in Review: Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021


In spite of COVID-19 and its impact on many of our programs, we have continued to focus our efforts on a variety of initiatives and have made great strides. If anything positive came out of COVID it was that it gave us time to put our heads down and strategize new ways of increasing our impact with migraine awareness, research and education to ultimately improve the lives of those living with this disease. 


Hiring People with Migraine 

We are so proud to say that over 50% of AMD’s employees, consultants and freelancers are people with migraine and headache diseases. The work we accomplished this year would not have been possible without the talents of these people.

Our executive director, Alicia Torborg, has lived with chronic migraine for more than 30 years and has tried numerous treatments to control her disease. She often shares her inspiring story of persevering with migraine as a mom and corporate executive. 

Our Director of Communications, Melissa Calise, has lived with migraine since her earliest memory. She uses her personal experience to connect to other people in the migraine community and to develop educational material that will help people better understand this disease.

This year we had the pleasure of working with Molly O’Brien on a more regular basis. Molly is a journalist and chronic migraine patient who brought her incredible talent of interviewing and delivering news to our podcast, Spotlight on Migraine and the Migraine Minute News Update. In 2021 expect to see her more as she continues those series and also joins us for Instagram live interviews where she will interview guests from the community.

We also frequently work with freelancers who live with headache diseases including our podcast transcriptionist, Tara, our promotional goods provider, Erica of Achy Smile Shop, our writers Lindsay Weitzel, Lisa Smith (also our voice-over talent) and Ashley Hattle. We have also worked with dozens of other bloggers and patient advocates for our programs like Shades for Migraine and Research is Hope. 

If you would like to get more involved in the work of the migraine community, sign up for the Shades for Migraine volunteer registry which is shared with over 15 migraine and headache organizations. 



There was no shortage of interesting migraine and headache topics to explore this year! We covered a wide variety of topics from psychedelic research to oxygen access and just about everything in between. Over the last 12 months we published 23 podcast episodes with expert guests and 15 blogs by patients sharing their personal stories or recapping recent research findings.

2020 also brought the launch of our Migraine Minute News Updates which are 1-2 minute recaps of weekly migraine news.


Top 5 Blogs

Fifty Shades of Migraine: Vestibular, Hemiplegic & Migraine with Brainstem Aura

Why Are Cluster Headaches Affected by the Seasons?

Why Do We Hate Light?

Remembering Melissa: A Young Life Stolen By Migraine

Cluster Headache Patients Face An Uphill Battle for High-Flow Oxygen


Top 5 Podcasts

Psychedelics, Serotonin & Migraine

Tips for Using Food to Manage Migraine

Testing and Treatment for Vestibular Migraine

Symptoms in the Eye: Is it migraine?

A Guide to Four Neuromodulation Devices for Migraine Treatment



The pandemic impacted our annual symposium more than any other of our programs. Typically held in-person in Providence, RI, COVID-19 forced us to transition this event to a virtual format. The move turned out to be a tremendous success! We were able to bring the event to almost 500 attendees from more than 25 countries. Given the uncertainty of the pandemic in 2021 and the feedback we received after going virtual, we’ve decided our 2021 Migraine Symposium will also be held virtually. If you’d like to be notified when registration opens, sign up for our notification list here.



Migraine Research Initiative

In 2020, AMD put a bigger focus on advancing migraine research. This year we were able to strategize a multi-year plan for our research initiatives. This began with the formation of our Research Advisory Committee, a group of 20+ leading experts from prestigious universities who have been meeting monthly to identify gaps in migraine research and to discuss new research projects that can fill those gaps. 

To provide a place for research collaboration, we launched the Migraine Science Collaborative (MSC) early in the year. The MSC is a communication platform and resource hub for researchers and medical professionals with an interest in migraine and headache diseases. The platform also includes a mentor program for young investigators to grow in their careers in the field of migraine. 



Shades for Migraine 

Our plans for Shades for Migraine dramatically changed due to the pandemic. We were unable to hold our in-person Taking it to the Streets events in locations around the world but we were still able to raise awareness globally on social media. We distributed over 4500 pairs of sunglasses, and had participants in 50 states and 44 countries. We also started a petition where we asked people to urge insurers and healthcare payors to  provide better access to migraine and headache treatments. The petition collected more than 7,500 signatures. We are already busy thinking about new ways to build Shades for Migraine and can’t wait for June. Sign up for the SFM newsletter here to stay updated on all new developments. 


Giving Tuesday & The Research Is Hope Campaign

For the first year ever we ran a fundraising campaign called Research Is Hope to help support our migraine research efforts. While it was a difficult year for fundraising, we managed to raise over $20,000 that will directly support innovative research led by our Research Advisory Committee. During November and December all donations were doubled! Our matching donor generously extended this matching program and will continue to double donations throughout January. In addition, Research Is Hope shared five powerful stories that showed the true impact migraine can have on people’s lives and garnered the attention of media around the country. If you would like to donate to the Research is Hope campaign, click here. Stay tuned for future fundraising campaigns and updates on research that evolves out of funds raised. 



We are looking forward to 2021 with the same goal we have each year: to improve the lives of those living with migraine. A lofty goal we know, but we have some exciting ideas we think you will love. 

In 2021 we will continue to run bi-annual fundraising campaigns to support the work of the Research Advisory Committee (RAC). AMD will work in collaboration with the RAC to strategize new ideas and take the next steps with one, if not two, new migraine and headache research projects. 

On a patient level, we have a tremendous number of educational materials that are in development, including medical animation videos, chalkboard videos, a comorbidity library, doctor’s office resources, excellent new podcasts and of course new blogs. We are also developing a new plan to get these resources in the hands of providers and patients in underserved communities. 

Stay updated on all of our new developments as well as migraine news by signing up to get our monthly newsletter here.


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