June 2022 Society Spotlight

Meet Gretchen E. Tietjen, MD, Recipient of the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award

I have been intrigued by migraine and the persons it affects for over 30 years.  I decided to expand my sphere of subspecialty practice to include headache medicine during my stroke fellowship (1989-91), when I chose to investigate the relationship of migraine and stroke, a relatively unexplored topic at the time. I joined the American Headache Society in 1995 after being invited to give a lecture on my research on antiphospholipid antibodies and migraine, and I have rarely missed an AHS Annual Scientific meeting or Scottsdale Headache Symposium since that time. Over the years I’ve presented lectures or my research findings at AHS gatherings on 80 occasions. Hopefully, I’ve imparted knowledge to others, but I can say with confidence that my preparation contributed much to my own understanding of the topics on which I spoke. Particularly meaningful to me were the four award lectures I’ve been invited to give, including on endothelial dysfunction and migraine, the association of vascular biomarkers with migraine and adverse childhood experiences, understanding migraine through its comorbidities, and migraine, stroke and toxic stress.

It didn’t take me long, however, to realize that the AHS encompassed so much more than what happened on the stage or in the poster sessions at the meetings. The AHS also comprises numerous committees that, among other things, tackle aspects of expanding venues of headache education, developing research strategies, overseeing the publication and online presence of the society’s journal Headache, assuring excellence in the leadership pipeline, acknowledging members’ achievements, scholarship, service, and advocacy, and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion at all AHS levels. Over the years, I have belonged to a number of these committees and whether meeting in-person or virtually, it is an enriching experience, working toward the organization’s goals with smart and serious-minded individuals.  I also enjoyed participating in a variety of the Special Interest Sections, especially the Women’s Health and Migraine and Vascular Disease Sections. These particular sections have developed didactic programs that over the years have been part of pre-courses and courses at the Annual Scientific Meetings and Scottsdale Headache Symposia, as well as having organized research consortia to perform systematic reviews, design and implement multicenter epidemiologic surveys, publish findings, and submit grants. Belonging to a section also affords one an opportunity to provide or receive mentorship, and to deepen professional and personal relationships.

While I greatly admire the senior members of AHS who have received international acclaim for their scholarship, I am continually impressed by the knowledge, talents, enthusiasm and innovative thinking of our junior and mid-career members, and am reassured that the future of this organization, which has meant so much to me, has a bright future.

Gretchen E. Tietjen, MD

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