Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world

Research Performance

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is a cancer research institution focusing on all three areas of research: BASIC, TRANSLATIONAL and CLINICAL RESEARCH. 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 others in subsequent research papers published in highly credible research journals is an important indicator of research influence and impact.

In comparison to the top cancer research centres from around the world, The Princess Margaret’s research program ranks second (from 2015 to 2017) in the percentage of papers published in high-impact oncology journals and fifth in the percentage of highly cited papers (to be ‘highly cited’, a paper must have a citation count that places it in the top 10 percent of papers published in the same field and year).

% Published in High-Impact Oncology Journals*

  1. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (21.1%)
  2. Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (15.4%)
  3. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (14.5%)
  4. MD Anderson (14.5%)
  5. Karolinska Institute (12.2%)

% Highly Cited*

  1. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (45 %)
  2. Royal Marsden (39,6 %)
  3. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (39,3 %)
  4. NKI Amsterdam (35,6 %)
  5. Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (34,4 %)

* Princess Margaret benchmarked against:

  • Dana-Farber, Boston
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering, New York City
  • German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), Heidelberg
  • Mayo Clinic, Rochester
  • MD Anderson, Houston
  • Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm
  • H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Florida

World-Leading Clinical Trials Program

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).

We have leveraged our clinical trials expertise to form and lead The Princess Margaret Phase II Consortium, which is a network of 13 cancer centres across Canada and the U.S. This is the only site outside of the U.S. to secure a contract with the U.S. NCI.

Recognized Global Centre of Excellence

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 laboratory research and clinical trials.

Leaders in Participation for Clinical Trials

Our clinical trials program is the largest in Canada and one of the largest in the world, with over 700 active trials, and 1 in 6 new patients enrolled onto a clinical trial.

Our cancer centre is the only non-U.S. site chosen to be part of the Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network funded by the U.S. NCI.


Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is the largest cancer research and clinical program in Canada. We treat over 17,700 new patients a year and over 1,400 patients visit the cancer centre daily. 3,000 employees are involved in our patient care and research programs:

  • We are the only research and comprehensive treatment centre devoted exclusively to cancer in Canada.
  • Our research enterprise is comprised of over 850 research staff, including: 64 senior scientists, 293 clinical researchers and scientists, as well as 194 research trainees.
  • We run the world's largest single-site radiation medicine program.
  • We run Canada's largest clinical trial program where 1 in 6 new patients is enrolled in a study. (17% of patients versus 4% in the U.S.)
  • 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 and most technologically advanced 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 patients in Canada with the most complex and challenging cancers. 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 have 16 disease site groups with 400 clinics  per week and nearly 230,000 clinic visits in a year.
  • We are leading the way with the most comprehensive Immunotherapy 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 were the first cancer centre in Canada to integrate the results of genome sequencing of tumour tissue into the patient record for physicians to consider in diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
  • 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.

History of Discovery and Innovation

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. Norman Boyd identifies breast density as a major risk factor for breast cancer and later demonstrates that it is highly inheritable.


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.


Dr. Robert Bristow develops a genetic test to identify which men are at highest risk for their prostate cancer to return following surgery or radiation.


Dr. Daniel De Carvalho discovers a mechanism to mimic a virus and potentially trigger an immune response that targets colon cancer stem cells and fights the cancer like an infection.


Dr. John Dick discovers a completely new view of how blood is made.


Dr. Thomas Kislinger, and his team of prostate researchers, discovers biomarkers using non-invasive liquid biopsies to identify aggressive disease before surgery.


Dr. Robert Bristow and colleagues publish research in Nature on a genetic fingerprint that explains why some prostate cancer patients develop aggressive disease that spreads.

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