The Brain Prize 2021 awarded to a group of neuroscience pioneers in migraine research

18 March 2021

Society & Partner News

The Brain Prize 2021 has been awarded to a group of four neuroscientists from Denmark, Sweden, UK, and USA who discovered a key mechanism that causes migraine and led to revolutionary new treatments.

The Brain Prize 2021 has been awarded to a group of neuroscience pioneers in migraine research. The four winners are internationally renowned neuroscientists, Lars Edvinsson (Sweden), Peter Goadsby (UK/USA), Michael Moskowitz (USA) and Jes Olesen (Denmark).  For their ground-breaking work on migraine, the Lundbeck Foundation will award them the Brain Prize, worth DKK 10 million (approximately £1.1m, $1.5m, €1.3m).

Migraine is much more than a bad headache. It is a serious neurological disease with symptoms that include severe throbbing and recurring head pain, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell. Some migraine attacks can last for several days and more than four million people suffer at least 15 migraine attacks per month. For many, migraine severely diminishes the quality of life, including the ability to work, and can lead to depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances. The economic and societal costs associated with migraine are extremely high – in the tens of billions of dollars worldwide.

Professor Richard Morris, chair of the Prize’s selection committee, explains the reasoning behind the award: “Migraine is one of the most common and disabling neurological conditions affecting humans. The work of the four recipients contributed to the clinically effective classification of the various types of this disorder, and then to unravelling the key mechanisms that cause it. This understanding led to the development of a novel therapy and has opened windows into future ones. Their work on migraine is a remarkable example of bedside-to-bench-to-bedside research that has yielded tangible clinical benefit.”

Find out more on the Brain Prize website

The winners of the Brain Prize 2021 will give a lecture at the Brain Conferences in 2022, organised by FENS and the Lundbeck Foundation. They will deilver the Brain Prize lecture at the FENS Forum 2022, in Paris (France).

About this year’s prize winners

Lars Edvinsson is Swedish and a Professor of Internal Medicine at Lund University, Sweden. He is also President of the International Headache Society and Professor in Clinical Pharmacology at Copenhagen University. He trained at Lund University Medical Faculty and graduated as MD with PhD in 1980. He became a full professor at Lund University and senior consultant at the University Hospital in Lund in 2002. He is also the founder of the Glostrup Research Institute and has been its leader for the last 15 years. He is a leading expert in the field of cerebral circulation and migraine.

Peter Goadsby is Australian/British. He is Director of the NIHR-Wellcome Trust King’s Clinical Research Facility at King’s College London in the United Kingdom and is Professor of Neurology at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA. He is also Honorary Consultant Neurologist at King’s College Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond St, London. He obtained his medical degree at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia. After post-doctoral work in New York, Paris, and post-graduate neurology training in London he returned to UNSW, and the Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney as a consultant neurologist and became an Associate Professor of Neurology.

Michael Moskowitz is American and a Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School at the Massachusetts General Hospital, USA.  Professor Moskowitz received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Tufts University School of Medicine.  After becoming certified by the American Boards in both internal medicine and neurology, he did a post-doctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and remained on its faculty for 6 years in full time research.  His research focuses on translational mechanisms underlying migraine and stroke and is credited with foundational discoveries that ushered in modern day migraine therapeutics.

Jes Olesen is Danish and is a Professor of Neurology in the Department of Clinical Neurology, at the University of Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, Denmark. He studied at the University of Copenhagen. His neurological education included a residency at Cornell Medical School, New York, and a volunteer period at the National Hospital Queen Square, London, UK. He is the father of the International Headache Classification and has identified several signaling mechanisms in migraine leading to new drug targets and registered drugs. He founded and for many years led the Danish Headache Center where he is still an attending physician.
Jes Olesen was involved in developing the groundbreaking study “Cost of disorders of the brain in Europe” (2005) commissioned by the European Brain Council. This study alerted European politicians and policy makers to the prevalence and high cost of brain diseases as well as the low levels of associated research funding.

About the Brain Prize

The Brain Prize is the world’s largest prize for brain research and is awarded each year by the Lundbeck Foundation. The award is worth 10 million DKK (approx. €1.3 million) and is given to one or more neuroscientists who have had a ground-breaking impact in the field.

The Brain Prize is awarded at a ceremony in Copenhagen, presided over by His Royal Highness, The Crown Prince of Denmark. This year it will take place on 25 October.

The Brain Prize recognises highly original and influential advances in any area of brain research, from basic neuroscience to applied clinical research. Winners may be of any nationality and work in any country around the globe. The Brain Prize was first awarded in 2011 and has so far honoured 34 scientists from 9 different countries.

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