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Advancing best-in-class cancer care with top cancer centres in the world
Under a partnership agreement signed in a virtual ceremony, the two internationally acclaimed cancer centres will work together to establish joint basic, translational, and clinical research, and advance the use of novel technology in the care of patients with cancer.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre has partnered with the renowned Institut Curie in France to enhance clinical, academic and research opportunities with each other, and to advance cancer care and best practices throughout the world.

Under an agreement signed virtually, the two internationally acclaimed cancer centres will work together to establish joint basic, translational, and clinical research and advance the use of novel technology in the care of patients with cancer.

After the ceremony, participants were treated to a virtual tour of Musée Curie.

"Cancer cases continue to grow, even during a pandemic," says Dr. Danielle Rodin, radiation oncologist at the Princess Margaret and the first Director of the Global Cancer Program at Princess Margaret, who took part in last month's ceremony.

"One hospital or one country alone cannot solve these massive global issues. COVID-19 has reminded us that we are all part of an interconnected health system and we can't afford to work in silos to come up with solutions."   

Globally, about one in six deaths are due to cancer, the second-leading cause of death in the world. About 70 per cent of deaths from cancer occur in low-and middle-income countries.

Institut Curie has been a private, not-for-profit, public interest foundation since 1921. It was founded by Marie Curie to fight against cancer. As well as research, patient care, and teaching, the Institut has a mission to preserve and celebrate the work of the Curie and Joliot-Curie families.

Marie Curie's legacy is one of many firsts, as well as developing the research-care continuum, in which research and therapies closely inform and build upon each other.  

Newest partnership for PM Global Cancer Program

Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize (along with Antoine Henri Becquerel and Pierre Curie) in 1903 for Physics, and then again in 1911, in Chemistry for the discovery of the radioactive elements radium and polonium. The discovery of radioactivity and radiation was the foundation of many new diagnostic methods, as well as radiotherapy for cancer treatments.

Marie's eldest daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, became a scientist and also won a Nobel Prize in 1935 for her work in artificial radioactivity – making this the only mother-daughter pair to do so. 

When World War I broke out, Marie Curie used her scientific knowledge to set up mobile X-ray units ("Petites Curies") on donated vehicles. These could then be driven close to field hospitals to image shrapnel in soldiers before surgery. She herself learned how to drive the cars, fix them, and to operate the X-ray machines, and read the X-ray film. 

She also used radium as a way to sterilize equipment and wounds in the war hospitals.

Currently, the Institut combines a research centre and hospital which cares for patients with some of the rarest cancers. It is highly regarded for its (bench to bedside) translational research, it's Proton Therapy Center in Orsay – one of the few such centres in the world – as well as for clinical trials, breast cancer, lung cancer, childhood cancers and immunotherapy.  

Both centres have developed strong international partnerships, as well as a humanitarian focus in their outreach to other countries.

At the Princess Margaret, the Global Cancer Program has already established multiple partnerships around the world, including King Hussein Cancer Centre in Jordan, Tata Memorial Hospital in India, A.C. Camargo Cancer Center in Brazil, Moi University Hospital in Kenya, and the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ).

Most recently, the Princess Margaret signed an agreement with the Rabin Medical Center in Israel to foster collaborations in clinical care, education and research to impact healthcare outcomes for patients around the world.   

This story first appeared on UHN News.

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