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MHNI Founder & Director honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

The American Headache Society in conjunction with the International Headache Society has announced that Dr. Joel Saper will be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for his pioneering work in the treatment of patients with headache and his ceaseless efforts on behalf of the American Headache Society and its promotion of scientific research and education in the field of head and neck pain.  In extending the award to Dr. Saper, the Awards Committee highlighted Dr. Saper's decades of service on behalf of the organization and his over 35 years' work to establish scientific credibility, aggressive education and ethics in practice in the scholarly pursuit of better pain care for patients suffering this disabling malady. 

Dr. Joel R. Saper is the founder and director of the Michigan Headache & Neurological Institute (MHNI) and clinical professor of Neurology at Michigan State University.  Dr. Saper was trained in neurology at the University of Michigan and invited onto the faculty immediately thereafter. In 1978, he together with Dr. Alvin Lake, PhD and Margie Van Meter, R.N., developed MHNI, the world's first comprehensive head pain treatment program. The center was developed in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  In the same year, Dr. Saper and his colleagues developed the first specialty unit at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea (formerly Chelsea Community Hospital or CCH) to serve the most severely painful and treatment refractory head pain patients. 

During his career Dr. Saper has served as President of the American Association of Headache, Chairman of the American Council for Headache Education and served on the boards of the American Pain Society and American Academy of Pain Medicine.  Dr. Saper was the founding member and twice chairman of the Pain Care Coalition, a legislative organization comprised of the American Headache Society, American Pain Society, American Academy of Pain Medicine and the American Society of Anesthesiology.  This coalition represents the legislative interests of pain patients and health professionals in Washington, D.C.   Among Dr. Saper's legislative achievements, he initiated, together with Michigan congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI), the initial draft of what has become the National Pain Care Policy Law, passed into law by Congress in 2010.  This legislation has given rise to the Veterans Pain Act and the Military Pain Act, and advocated for greater NIH research support and other provisions on behalf of headache and pain patients in the United States. 

During the course of his career, Dr. Saper has written eight medical books, nearly fifty chapters in medical textbooks and nearly two-hundred peer reviewed medical journal articles and abstracts.  He has given hundreds of lectures to medical audiences around the world and has been featured in some of the most recognized public media, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Life Magazine, Good Morning America, The Today's Show, Nightline, 20/20 and many others. 

Dr. Saper is the recipient of numerous awards given by both the lay public and medical groups and has been annually cited for over two decades in Best Doctors in America and America's Top Doctors.   Recently, Dr. Saper was cited by Women's Health Magazine as one of this nation's top doctors for woman, and in 2012 Dr. Saper was awarded the Clinician of the Year award by The Head Injury Alliance of Michigan for his work in treating head injured individuals. 

Dr. Saper is triple boarded in neurology (by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology) in pain medicine (by the American Board of Pain Medicine), and in Headache Medicine (by the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties).  He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology and the American College of Physicians, as well as a Regent of the American Headache Society.  Dr. Saper lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and continues an active career in education, clinical research and treatment of patients at his center and hospital program, which have become internationally renowned facilities, attracting patients from throughout the world.  He currently chairs the research advisory board of the Migraine Research Foundation. 

MHNI, the center in Ann Arbor founded by Dr. Saper in 1978, has been recently named by the American Pain Society as its first National Center of Excellence for headache.  Dr. Saper continues as an active educator and lecturer in the American Academy of Neurology, American Headache Society, American Academy of Pain Medicine, and the North American Neuromodulation Society.