Illinois Research Grants


Joni Avery
Susan G. Komen

Katie Parker
Komen Memorial
309.691.6906 (W), 309.922.1462 (C)



Illinois Researchers Receive $1,182,497 in Research Funding

DALLAS – September 26, 2017 – Susan G. Komen, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, today announced 2017 research funding of $30.7 million for 98 research grants, with a focus on new treatments and understanding of the most lethal forms and stages of breast cancer. Komen funding to institutions in 27 states and 7 countries also includes research into new screening technologies, treatments for metastatic and aggressive types of breast cancer and disparities in breast cancer outcomes.

The grants include $1,182,497 in new funding for research at four institutions in Illinois, bringing Komen’s total research investment in Illinois to $20,090,805 since 1982.

“We are focused on new treatments, ways to overcome drug resistance in breast cancer patients, and a better understanding of how and why breast cancer spreads, so that we can better treat metastatic breast cancer or prevent it all together,” said Ellen Willmott, interim president and CEO of Susan G. Komen. “This focus on aggressive and metastatic disease is the foundation of our Bold Goal to reduce U.S. breast cancer deaths by 50 percent by 2026.”

Metastatic breast cancer – which is breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body like the brain, liver, bones or lungs – is responsible for almost all of the nation’s 40,000 annual breast cancer deaths. More than 154,000 women are living with metastatic disease in the U.S. today. By targeting metastatic disease, Komen is hoping to reduce breast cancer deaths dramatically in the U.S.

This year’s funding also includes $17.6 million to early-career investigators. “Funding for early-career researchers ensures a continuum of breast cancer research, across generations, which is critical in a time of tightening federal research dollars,” Willmott said.

Komen’s 2017 portfolio includes*:

  •  37 grants expanding our knowledge of metastatic breast cancer and how to better treat it or prevent it;
  • 37 grants looking into novel treatments for aggressive types of breast cancer (specifically, triple negative, inflammatory breast cancer luminal B, and ER-positive recurrent breast cancer).
  • 59 grants focused on new therapies, including 10 for targeted therapies and 20 for drug development
  • 24 investigating drug resistance (why drugs stop working in some patients)
  • 9 on disparities in breast cancer outcomes and 2 involving Big Data

*Eds Note: Numbers may add to more than 98 because individual studies may be classed in more than one category.

Komen’s Investments in Illinois

Komen’s research program is funded in part by contributions from Komen’s nationwide Network of Affiliates, which directs 25 percent of funds raised locally to Komen’s national research program, while investing the remaining 75 percent into community outreach programs that serve local women and men facing breast cancer.

Since 1993, Komen Memorial has funded $11,672,456 to community programs serving local women and men, while contributing $4,642,723 to Komen research since 1997.

“We are so thankful for the friends, family and neighbors that fight alongside us, helping to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in Illinois, both on the ground and through research,” said Linda Maricle, Executive Director, Komen Memorial

In Illinois, researchers will receive…

Northwestern University- Chicago Campus, Chicago

Marc Mendillo, Ph.D., will receive $450,000 to study a molecule called HSF1 which allows cancer cells to survive under stress. This work seeks to understand how HSF1 is “turned on” in cancer, and how it affects breast cancer cell responses to anti-cancer drugs. He will then use the information to determine if HSF1 has vulnerabilities that can be targeted, leading to better ways to keep cancer cells from surviving treatment.

University of Illinois – Chicago

Garth Rauscher, Ph.D., will receive nearly $180,000 to continue the UIC Komen Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Disparities Fellowship, working with the UIC Cancer Education and Career Development Program and the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force. Dr. Rauscher will train students in a multidisciplinary breast cancer disparities research project with the goal of closing racial and ethnic disparities in breast cancer.

University of Chicago

Komen Scholar Olufunmilayo Olopade, M.D. (M.B.B.S.), will receive $550,000 to work towards eliminating health disparities in young women of African descent. This study will use genomic technology to examine genetic and non-genetic risk factors in breast cancer subtypes, including triple negative breast cancer (TNBC).

The Society of Surgical Oncology will receive $2,500 to support a Breast Cancer Research Award that recognizes excellence in breast cancer research conducted by a postdoctoral fellow or newly-trained surgical oncologist in the field. The award offers the recipient travel support to attend the SSO Annual Cancer Symposium to present their research.

These new funds bring Komen’s total research investment in breast cancer to more than $956 million since opening its doors in 1982, the largest of any nonprofit and second only to the U.S. government. In addition to research, Komen and its nationwide network of Affiliates serve women and men in thousands of communities. To date, more than $2.1 billion has been invested in community programs that provide education, screening and treatment support.

Illinois also has 7 ongoing grants, awarded in previous years

About Susan G. Komen®
Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization outside of the federal government, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Since its founding in 1982, Komen has funded more than $956 million in research and provided more than $2 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs. Komen has worked in more than 60 countries worldwide. Komen was founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life. Visit or call 1-877 GO KOMEN. Connect with us on social at

Grants are contingent upon signed and executed contracts with Komen


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