Princess Margaret Annual Report 2020

Leadership Message

The 2020 year of the pandemic presented unprecedented challenges to the global community, transforming how we deliver healthcare, how we conduct science, and how we teach, learn and connect with each other.
Photo of Keith Stewart

A. Keith Stewart,

VP Cancer & Medical Director
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

Photo of Aaron Schimmer

Aaron D. Schimmer,

Research Director
Princess Margaret Research Institute

However, what it did not change wa​s the continuing growth in new cancer cases, and our relentless determination to advance treatment by understanding cancer at the most minute molecular level, by giving comfort and confidence to our patients, and to each other in this, one of the most challenging times of this century.

Throughout this difficult time, everyone in our cancer program delivered the best care for our patients, consistently putting the needs of our patients first and quickly initiating new virtual ways to communicate with them and their caregivers so that their care could continue with as few interruptions as possible.

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Although COVID-19 hampered some of the bold initiatives in our strategic plan, much progress has been made:

  • New clinical services have been launched, including implementing complex pain control procedures in the Princess Margaret operating rooms, conscious sedation of patients undergoing bone marrow procedures, a cure for an adult sickle cell patient with a stem cell transplant, and we completed the first-ever Canadian liver precision radiation treatment in our state-of-the-art MR-Linac facility.
  • The Princess Margaret Global Cancer Program has been launched to address the growing disparities in cancer treatment within Canada, and around the world. The Program hosted the first virtual Canadian Global Oncology Workshop, bringing together 110 clinicians, government leaders, and academics to identify pan-Canadian initiatives to support our mission.
  • Our governance was strengthened by adding finance, quality and research representatives to the Princess Margaret Executive Committee, along with creating a new role for a Director of UHN Cancer Experience. Working with dedicated teams, our new Director, Dr. Gary Rodin, will implement change that elevates the comfort and confidence of our staff, learners, patients, and their families.
  • We completed renovating the main floor, as well as the Gynecology and Palliative Care Clinics on the 5th floor to create a healing and more inviting environment for our patients.

Despite the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, our researchers continued to push the boundaries of science in the laboratory, publish in high-impact journals, and win awards from all the major funding agencies in Canada. Some of our major achievements include:

  • Setting up a new biotechnology company, based on innovative T-cell immunotherapy technologies developed by senior scientist Dr. Naoto Hirano. Many more patients may be able to benefit from these options.
  • Accelerating discoveries in blood stem cells, senior scientists Drs. John Dick and Mathieu Lupien uncovered the difference between 'dormant' long-term and 'activated' short-term cell states. This provides important clues on how cancers maintain stem-like properties that may later be re-activated and contribute to cancer reoccurring, even after therapy.
  • Leading the way in COVID-19 research, senior scientist Dr. Amit Oza and teams from the Cancer Clinical Research Unit launched the RESPECT study to determine the prevalence of coronavirus infection within healthcare, research and clinical care organizations, with the goal to improve testing and tracking of infections. The study recently expanded to food production workers, with a dedicated mobile research team, delivering test results in real time.

We would like to especially acknowledge the role of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation in its immense philanthropic efforts that help make our programs, research and bold innovation agenda possible. We thank our donors, granting agencies, sponsors, and supporters for their continued patronage despite the many challenges posed by the pandemic.

And finally, our immense gratitude to our staff, volunteers, and learners, many from across the globe, for their commitment and resilience in the face of the ongoing pandemic.

We are heartened by all of your enormous efforts and visible determination to roll up your sleeves to take on the additional demands required by our ever-expanding COVID-19 activities. Your unflagging work and optimism continues to make a major difference to our patients, their families, and our colleagues.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Annual Report 2020
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Last reviewed: 6/6/2021
Last modified: 7/7/2021 5:37 AM