The role of international scientific societies today

Cephalalgia Editorial, 30 March 2022 – Professor Cristina Tassorelli and Professor Arne May

The abrupt change in the geopolitical landscape that we are all facing at this moment has originated a wave of reactions in scientific societies from all regions of the world including the International Headache Society. We notice that the consistent response is the stigmatization of national aggression and, at the same time, the acknowledgment of personal and professional ties to colleagues, who, more often than not, have become friends regardless of boundaries and political landscapes. Politics do not define people and most of us have not chosen which nationality we have. Indeed, nationality does not play a role in scientific exchange since science and the rules of science are inherently supra-national.

In this panorama, besides and beyond the personal and humane urge to participate or activate initiatives aimed at helping those who are in great need, it is of the utmost importance to continue and even intensify international collaborations and exchanges in the scientific field.

Science is not a marginal activity, it is not an ornament.

Scientific societies are non-governmental organizations with altruistic objectives that have been working selflessly to promote the public understanding of science, to raise the status of scientific disciplines and professions, to ultimately improve the lives of patients. Scientific societies that, like the IHS, have an international constituency do bear the responsibility to disseminate science and foster the uptake of scientific advances in as many countries in the world as possible. It is not an easy task, the barriers are multifold (limited funding of the Society, economic situation of the countries, local political barriers, cultural issues), in some cases they are enormous, in others insurmountable. But this should be no excuse to avoid trying together by pooling expertise and resources, by cultivating our commitment and enthusiasm, and by liaising with relevant stakeholders.

Good science improves the lives of many people and contributes to creating better nations.

Headache science has taken a tremendous leap forward since the creation of the IHS in Germany exactly 40 years ago. Millions of patients have benefitted from these advances and will do so even more in the future. Though this may be perceived as not relevant when unwise politicians are shaking the spectre of nuclear war, it is a mission that goes beyond headache science and shall be pursued, even more so in dangerous times, when priorities are being reshaped.

The IHS will intensify efforts to accomplish its mission, to bring science where it is most needed, to reduce disparities, to foster inclusion and ultimately to peacefully, but strongly oppose the consequences of violence, obscurantism, and propaganda.

Professor Cristina Tassorelli, IHS President, and Professor Arne May, Cephalalgia Editor-in-Chief

We are the International Headache Society

IHS is an international professional organisation working with others for the benefit of people affected by headache disorders. As a charity, the purpose of IHS is to advance headache science, education, and management, and promote headache awareness worldwide.

Our values

1. Commitment to Excellence

IHS strives for excellence in its activities, and will set challenging but achievable goals.

2. Respect for Expertise

IHS values expertise and the full range of skills and disciplines that are needed for the realisation of its objectives.

3. Respect for Science

IHS recognises that good healthcare is based on evidence, and that the origins of evidence lie in responsible research and scientific method.

4. Commitment to Independence from Inappropriate Influence

IHS works for the public good and will not be influenced by commercial or other considerations that are contrary to the interests of people affected by headache disorders.

5. Commitment to Integrity, Openness and Accountability

IHS believes in transparency and honesty, which will characterise all its activities and which are expected of its members and of those with whom it has dealing.

6. Importance of Membership

IHS recognises the importance of membership for the realisation of its objectives regardless of individuals’ expertise level or nationality.

How are we structured?

A Board of Directors, elected by IHS members every other year, and who are also the Trustees of the Charity, take responsibility for all its activities and funds. The Trustees comprise the President, the President-Elect, the Past-President, up to six Elected Trustees, and up to three Appointed Trustees. The Board can also co-opt Trustees to ensure diverse representation.

There are ten Standing Committees, ten Special Interest Groups and ad-hoc Task Forces, all with a specific remit. An Advisory Council meets once a year and is comprised of the Standing Committee and Special Interest Group Chairmen and the elected representatives of Affiliate Member Societies (national societies).

Our Members

IHS members are medical and healthcare practitioners (including such practitioners actively involved in scientific research) who are professionally engaged or involved in the study of headache disorders.

National headache societies are encouraged to join IHS as Affiliate Member Societies.

Associate Membership, enabling online access to the IHS official journal Cephalalgia, is available without payment of a fee to those who qualify for membership of the Society and are residents of countries on WHO’s Hinari list of developing countries.

Honorary Life Membership is offered to the IHS President on leaving the Board, and to recipients of Special Recognition Awards. Other Honorary Life Memberships are appointed by the Board on a case-by-case basis to individuals who are distinguished for clinical or research work in fields related to headache.

Special Recognition Awards are awarded to individuals who have contributed greatly to the Society. The awards are presented during the bi-ennial IHC Presidential Symposium, and include Honorary Life Membership.