July 13, 2022:

The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium recently established the Kenneth and Verna Mae Jessen Award after a generous donation of $100,000 from the Verna Mae Jessen Trust. The trust supports nonprofit organizations working in cancer or pain management research. The Kenneth and Verna Mae Jessen Award will provide funding for basic, correlative, clinical, or population science oncology research.

Concepts will be solicited from researchers at all the Big Ten member institutions, and awardees will be selected by peer review. In keeping with the consortium’s mission and Verna Mae’s intentions, these funds will be used to improve the lives of cancer patients in the diverse communities we serve by leveraging the scientific and clinical expertise of Big Ten universities.

The board of directors of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium Foundation, Inc., will appoint a chair of the award review committee. The committee will receive proposals and seek preliminary feedback from senior leaders within Big Ten CRC member institutions. The committee will review the proposals and feedback received and will make a recommendation to the Foundation Board of Directors. The Board of Directors will then vote to approve funding for the recommended proposal.

The award will be announced during the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium Summit on Saturday, November 19, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio.

Initial LOIs can be sent to Abigail Proctor at aproctor@hoosiercancer.org

See the full RFP and submission instructions: Big Ten CRC RFA – Kenneth and Verna Mae Jessen Award

About Kenneth and Verna Mae Jessen

The Jessen’s passion for oncology research stems from the family’s history with cancer. Several members of the family, including Kenneth, Verna Mae, and two of their siblings, fought battles with cancer. Tom Jensen, Kenneth and Verna Mae’s nephew and administrator of the Verna Mae Jessen Trust, recognizes the great strides already made and the importance of continuing to fund cancer research.

“Without research, cancer care can’t improve,” said Jensen.

Kenneth and Verna Mae both grew up on dairy farms in the Omaha area. Verna Mae worked for the local phone company and Kenneth worked as a real estate agent and managed the family’s properties. Kenneth, with the help of family friends, built their first house, in which he and Verna Mae both lived until their passing. Kenneth and Verna Mae spent time volunteering at the Springwell Danish Cemetery where they now rest.

Kenneth and Verna Mae were known for their willingness to give a helping hand and for working hard. Tom Jensen remembers how his aunt and uncle taught him to spread kindness and care toward family and friends.

“Aunt Verna Mae taught me you care for family no matter what the cost, just as she cared for Uncle Kenny,” he said.
Kenneth and Verna Mae’s legacy as a hard-working team caring for their family, friends, and neighbors, will live on through the work supported by Kenneth and Verna Mae Jessen Award.

About the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium: The Big Ten cancer centers have united to transform the conduct of cancer research through collaborative, hypothesis-driven, highly translational oncology trials that leverage the scientific and clinical expertise of Big Ten universities. The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium creates a unique team-research culture to drive science rapidly from ideas to treatment-changing paradigms. Within this innovative environment, today’s research leaders collaborate with and mentor the research leaders of tomorrow with the unified goal of improving the lives of all patients with cancer.

About the Big Ten Conference: The Big Ten Conference is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service. Founded in 1896, the Big Ten has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in the lives of students competing in intercollegiate athletics and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness. The broad-based programs of the 14 Big Ten institutions will provide over $200 million in direct financial support to more than 9,800 students for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. The Big Ten sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse since 2013. For more information, visit www.bigten.org