About the Program

Migraine is a complex genetic disorder characterized by recurrent, severe headache accompanied by nausea or profound sensitivity to light and sound. Approximately 40 million Americans experience migraine, and the intensity of migraine symptoms can be quite debilitating. American employers lose more than $13 billion each year as a result of lost work days due to migraine.

The Migraine Research Program at Mayo Clinic focuses on better understanding and treatment of this highly prevalent, pathophysiologically complex and heterogenous disorder.

Migraine is challenging to study for several reasons:

  • It is a paroxysmal disorder in which there are no neurological symptoms or signs between attacks.
  • There is currently no specific radiological, biochemical or pathological biomarker to define the disorder as a disease.
  • A prominent component of the syndrome is pain, which is subjectively experienced and difficult to quantitate across multiple patients.

The study of the pathophysiology of migraine has greatly evolved over the last 15 years. The rapid evolution of investigative techniques permits study of migraine with minimal invasiveness in human subjects.

Three areas of rapid progress are investigations focusing on the genetics of migraine, the environmental factors influencing migraine and applications for novel functional neuroimaging techniques.

The Migraine Research Program maintains a growing library on genetic information to help researchers better understand the disorder, and is looking for families in which migraines are prevalent to participate. Learn more about the Migraine Genomic Library.