Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is one of the Top 5 Cancer Research Centres in the World

This statement is based on four key factors

What Does it Mean to Be a Major Comprehensive Cancer Centre?

Producing advances in the scientific understanding of cancer in order to deliver more effective therapies and practices requires enormous investment, ingenuity and expertise. Being referred to (cited) frequently by subsequent research papers is a means to communicate these advances. It is also an important indicator of research influence and impact.

In comparison to the top 5 cancer research centres identified in the 2013-14 U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” Study, The Princess Margaret’s research program ranked fourth in terms of the percentage of publications cited in high-impact oncology journals:

  1. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (20.7%)
  2. Mayo Clinic Cancer Center (14.4%)
  3. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (14.2%)
  4. Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (12.9%)
  5. MD Anderson Cancer Center (10.6%)*

* As of August 2014, pulled from a 3-year rolling window report 2011-2013.

Our Phase I clinical trials program is the largest in Canada and one of the top-rated programs of its kind worldwide. It is the only Phase I program in Canada to receive a grant from the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI).

In addition, we have leveraged our clinical trials expertise to form and lead The Princess Margaret Phase II Consortium, which is a network of ten cancer centres across Canada and the U.S. There are only eight Phase II consortiums in North America and this is the only site outside of the U.S. to secure a contract with the U.S. NCI.

We are proud that Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is the only Canadian cancer institution among six global cancer centres selected by GlaxoSmithKline as a preferred
centre of excellence to expedite translation of scientific knowledge into 
clinical trials and more effective treatments.

Our clinical trials program is the largest in Canada,
with 550+ trials involving 1 in 5 new patients.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is the largest cancer research and clinical program in Canada. We treat over 19,000 new patients a year and over 1,000 patients visit the hospital daily. More than 2,900 employees are involved in our patient care and research programs. In addition:

  • We are the only research and comprehensive treatment centre devoted exclusively to cancer in Canada.
  • Our research enterprise is comprised of over 1,000 research staff, including: 376 principal investigators, 62 senior scientists and scientists, as well as 528 research trainees.
  • We have the largest radiation medicine program under a single roof in North America and one of the largest radiation treatment facilities in the world.
  • We have the largest surgical oncology team in Canada and one of the largest in the world.
  • Our cancer surgeons, along with a multi-disciplinary team of specialists, led the development of the Guided Therapeutics Operating Room (GTx OR), the largest research operating room in Canada.
  • We have one of the largest stem cell transplant units in Canada.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre’s ability to discover and deliver new and better treatments
through evidenced-based research is supported not only by our scale, but also our breadth:

  • We care for many of Canada’s most complex and challenging cancer patients. We have the expertise to treat the 200+ types of cancer, including the rarest forms of the disease such as eye cancer. We provide consultations to other cancer clinicians across the country and beyond.
  • Because we support the full spectrum of cancer research, we are uniquely equipped with the world-class expertise to effectively test combinations of treatment therapies.
  • We are leading the way with the most comprehensive Immune Therapy Program in Canada. In 2013, we opened Canada’s first clinical trial using a promising kind of Immune Therapy called “Adoptive T-cell Therapy”.
  • We are the only centre in Canada at this time which is integrating the results of genome sequencing of tumour tissue into the patient record for physicians to consider in diagnosis and treatment recommendations through our IMPACT and COMPACT clinical trials.
  • We have launched several award-winning patient education and survivorship programs, including: Healing Beyond the Body, Survivorship Kitchens, Community Connections, exercise programs and symptom management.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre boasts a rich history of discovery and innovation. Here are some of our major discoveries:


Drs. James Till and Ernest McCulloch discover stem cells.


Dr. Tak Mak discovers the T-cell receptor, which in many ways provided the Rosetta Stone for all subsequent work on the adaptive immune system.


First North American installation of full-field digital mammography at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Mount Sinai Hospital, enabling earlier diagnosis of breast cancer with less radiation.


Dr. John Dick identifies colon cancer stem cells.


Drs. Frances Shepherd, Ming Tsao, and Igor Jurisica identify gene ‘signature’ that predicts lung cancer patients’ response to chemotherapy in combination with surgery.


Dr. John Dick purifies the blood stem cell into a single stem cell capable of regenerating the entire blood system.


Dr. Rodger Tiedemann discovers mechanisms of Velcade resistance in multiple myeloma, illuminating the root cause of multiple myeloma relapse.


Dr. Tak Mak receives Health Canada and U.S. FDA clearance for a new anticancer agent that will target an enzyme called PLK4, which plays a crucial role in the process of cancer cell division. The anticancer agent moved into Phase I clinical trial in early 2014.


Drs. John Cho and Marc de Perrot discover that radiation therapy prior to surgery doubles survival rates in mesothelioma patients.

For a more extensive list, please visit: Medical Scientific Firsts

As a major comprehensive cancer centre, The Princess Margaret actively adheres to the following:

  • Invests in the full range of basic, translational,
    and clinical cancer research.
  • Collaborates with other cancer centres in Canada and around the world to advance cancer care outcomes.
  • Assumes leadership in national and global health organizations and major professional associations.
  • Delivers state-of-the-art care and services to patients and families.
  • Attracts, retains and educates many top cancer healthcare professionals.
  • Works to develop more effective approaches to cancer diagnosis and therapy.
  • Educates the Canadian public about cancer research, cancer support and treatment.

The Princess Margaret ranks as one of the top 5 cancer research centres when measured against the same criteria used for the top 5 cancer centres in the 2013-14 U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” Study. A hospital (cancer centre) is eligible if it meets the following criteria:

  • Membership in the Council of Teaching Hospitals: The Princess Margaret is a member of the Ontario equivalent, the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO).
  • Medical school affiliation: The Princess Margaret is affiliated with the University of Toronto.
  • At least 200 hospital beds set up and staffed: The Princess Margaret includes 218 inpatient beds.
  • At least four of eight important key technologies available: The Princess Margaret provides access to 7 of 7 key technologies listed under the Cancer specialty.

The 2013-14 U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” Study lists certain key technologies in its methodology that are expected from “best hospitals”. As a top 5 cancer research centre, The Princess Margaret offers all of the 7 technologies that are
listed as relevant to the Cancer specialty:

  • Full-field digital mammography
  • Image-guided radiation therapy
  • PET/CT scanner
  • Robotic surgery
  • Shape-beam radiation
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery
  • Transplant services

Major cancer centres work to provide as many patients as possible with the most sophisticated care. The following elements were reviewed from the annual American Hospital Association (AHA) survey, and only leading comprehensive cancer centres included all of the following, in addition to The Princess Margaret:

  • Genetic testing/counseling
  • Patient-controlled analgesia
  • Pain-management program
  • Wound-management services
  • Infection isolation room
  • Palliative care
  • Hospice
  • Translators

The Princess Margaret is proud to be a world leader in: 

  • cancer stem cell research
  • image-guided therapeutics
  • lung cancer research and treatment
  • patient survivorship program development
  • radiation medicine

We also have strong programs in immune therapy, palliative care and cell signal transduction.

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