Top 5 Cancer Research Centre


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

This statement is based on four key factors

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 Institutet (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 Cancer Centre
* 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 12 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.

Leaders in Participation for Clinical Trials


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: 44 senior scientists, 251 clinical researchers and scientists, as well as 259 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.

Lab Technician


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

History of Discovery and Innovation

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

1961 Drs. James Till and Ernest McCulloch discover stem cells.
1984 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.
1999 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.
2005 Dr. Norman Boyd identifies breast density as a major risk factor for breast cancer and later demonstrates that it is highly inheritable.
2006 Dr. John Dick identifies colon cancer stem cells.
2008 Drs. Frances Shepherd, Ming Tsao, and Igor Jurisica identify gene ‘signature’ that predicts lung cancer patients’ response to chemotherapy in combination with surgery.
2011 Dr. John Dick purifies the blood stem cell into a single stem cell capable of regenerating the entire blood system.
2013 Dr. Rodger Tiedemann discovers mechanisms of Velcade resistance in multiple myeloma, illuminating the root cause of multiple myeloma relapse.
2013 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.
2014 Drs. John Cho and Marc de Perrot discover that radiation therapy prior to surgery doubles survival rates in mesothelioma patients.
2014 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.
2015 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.
2015 Dr. John Dick discovers a completely new view of how blood is made.
2016 Dr. Thomas Kislinger, and his team of prostate researchers, discovers biomarkers using non-invasive liquid biopsies to identify aggressive disease before surgery.  
2017 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.
2018 Dr. John Dick is among an international team of leukemia scientists who has discovered how to predict healthy individuals at risk of developing acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive and often deadly blood cancer.

What does it mean to be a Major Comprehensive Cancer Centre?

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 care and treatment.



'Best Hospitals' Criteria

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 2017-18 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.
  • Over 200 hospital beds set up and staffed.
  • At least four of eight important key technologies available: The Princess Margaret provides access to 8 of 8 key technologies listed under the Cancer specialty.


The 2017-18 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 8 technologies that are listed as relevant to the Cancer specialty:

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

Radiation Medicine

Patient 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

Image-Guided Therapeutics

World-Leading Programs

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 immunotherapy, palliative care and cell signal transduction.