International Headache Academy (iHEAD)
The International Headache Academy (iHEAD) was established to provide a platform for developing the next generation of headache specialists.
The first three-day iHEAD Academy (May 2012, Copenhagen, Denmark) provided an opportunity for young headache specialists to engage with their peers through presentations, workshops, debates and hands-on clinical mentoring. Subsequent Academies have been held in Leiden, Netherlands (October 2014), London, UK (October 2016), Vancouver, Canada (September 2017 – a joint European/US venture bringing together North American and European participants), London, UK (September 2018) and Dublin, Ireland (September 2019 – which invited delegates from all over the world, not just Europe).
The American Headache Society runs an associated Academy (IHA) and the courses are closely linked; IHAs have been held in Arizona (January 2014 and 2016), Bethesda (June 2015), and Los Angeles (January 2017, 2018 and 2019).
Delegates of the Academies, comprising the next generation of headache specialists from the region, are carefully selected by the Scientific Steering Committee collaborating with the IHS Juniors Group and regional National Societies. The Academy content is directed by the Scientific Steering Committee, which develops a comprehensive educational agenda combining the latest research in headache care with instruction in practical approaches to research, clinic-based medicine and professional development.
The programme of the Academy includes plenary sessions, as well as practical workshops and interactive masterclasses. Features of the Academy include presentations and debates on hot topics in headache management, as well as practical masterclasses in the basic and clinical science of headache medicine. A key feature of the Academies is practical, hands-on learning; workshop sessions are focused on developing leadership skills, including designing clinical trials, presentation skills and publishing work.
It is clear there is a pressing need for more education in headache to physicians across the globe. Moreover, it is equally clear that not all areas have the same needs. We have thus taken the approach of creating Academies for areas where headache teaching is better suited to develop the next generation of specialists. The aim is eventually to extend this initiative to other regions such as Asia and South America, with programmes tailored to the specific needs of the young neurologists in these regions. There is a dual need to not only develop specialists, but to raise the level of education across the board and attract more young physicians to pursue a career in headache medicine. IHS partners with relevant local groups to ensure the short- and longer-term success for the people we train so that headache medicine is better practiced on a global basis.
Peter J Goadsby
NIHR-Wellcome Trust King’s Clinical Research Facility, King’s College London