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Penny Severns Breast, Cervical and
Ovarian Cancer Research Fund

The Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Research Act, (20 ILCS 2310/55.70) was signed into law by Governor Jim Edgar on July 14, 1993, and became effective on January 1, 1994.

Governor George H. Ryan signed Public Act 91-107 on July 13, 1999, changing the name of the research fund to the Penny Severns Breast and Cervical Cancer Research Fund. It was renamed to commemorate the life of the late state Senator Penny Severns and her commitment to public service and breast cancer awareness.

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich signed Public Act 94-119 into law on July 6, 2005, adding ovarian cancer to the program's mission and changing the fund name again to the Penny Severns Breast, Cervical and Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.


The research fund is a special fund within the state treasury that is used for breast, cervical and ovarian cancer research grants. Revenue sources include general revenue funds, income tax contributions and gifts, as well as grants and awards from private foundations, nonprofit organizations and other governmental entities or persons.

The Illinois Department of Public Health encourages you to contribute to the Penny Severns Breast, Cervical and Ovarian Cancer Research Fund when you prepare your state income tax return.

Grants support research in areas related to breast, cervical and ovarian cancer prevention, etiology, pathogenesis, early detection, treatment and behavioral sciences. Research also may include clinical trials. One-year grants are available with the possibility of two subsequent 12-month renewals.

  • Standard research grants are intended to develop and advance the understanding, techniques and modalities effective in early detection, prevention, cure, screening and treatment of breast, cervical and ovarian cancers and may include clinical trials. The maximum award for standard research grants will not exceed $75,000.
  • Fellowship research grants support supervised post-doctoral research training. These grants are intended to further develop the skills necessary for a career in breast, cervical and ovarian cancer research. Fellowship research grants will receive maximum annual funding of $35,000.

Although a majority of the applications submitted are bio-medical in nature, researchers in the fields of behavioral and social sciences also are encouraged to apply.

Funding is granted to institutions, not individuals. Research is conducted by an individual(s) under the authority of an institution.

Special consideration is given to single-year applications and to applications for pilot projects that have the potential for subsequent funding from other sources. Continuation grants, with a maximum of two additional years, are available for those grantees that upon peer review demonstrate progress toward stated goals.

Distribution of grants is contingent upon the availability of funds and the nature of applications received. The grant awards range from $20,000 - $75,000.

Applications and grant cycle information may be obtained by contacting the Illinois Department Public Health, Office of Women’s Health, at 217-524-6088 or using the links below.