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Dr Mary Gospodarowicz tries to pick up one of the six gold bars gold bars valued at $3.28 million which was gifted to Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation by nine of Canada's leading gold mining company's. The Foundation announced during a news conference on Toronto on Wednesday October 15, 2014, a number of investments including an expansion to it's Toronto campus and an increase in the number of researchers and cancer experts.Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre has marked an important step toward its goal of becoming a world leader in personalized cancer medicine by announcing the largest-ever expansion of research space in the hospital's history.

The expansion, announced Wednesday, will dramatically ramp up the opportunity for important research into personalized medicine and other key areas affecting patient care, said Mary Gospodarowicz, the centre's medical director. Personalized medicine is a burgeoning field revolving around the idea that treatments for a disease must be tailored and customized based on an individual's genetic profile and other defining factors.

The hospital believes that focusing on personalized medicine can lead to earlier diagnoses, targeted treatments and better overall outcomes for patients. Princess Margaret is in the middle of a five-year campaign to raise $1-billion toward personalized cancer medicine, the largest fundraising campaign in Canadian health-care history.

The proposed expansion plan will add 113,000 square feet to the cancer centre's downtown Toronto campus and will overhaul the first five floors of the existing building. Dr. Gospodarowicz expects the expansion project to double the number of clinical trials and make it easier for scientists to do important research at the bedside and in the laboratory.

"I think it will develop new models of care," Dr. Gospodarowicz said in an interview, adding that it will take several years to complete.

Adding to the research space will also allow the hospital to attract leading international talent, she said. The cancer centre has already been able to attract 26 world-leading cancer experts and their teams as part of the $1-billion fundraising campaign. By the end of the five-year drive, which was launched in April, 2012, the goal is to recruit a total of 200 international experts.

Although the increased capacity is focused on research space, Dr. Gospodarowicz said patients and their families will benefit from plans to improve common areas and create more private spaces for them throughout the cancer centre.

At the same time, Paul Alofs, president and chief executive officer of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, announced the hospital is more than halfway toward its ambitious goal to raise $1-billion (half to be raised through philanthropic donations and half to be secured through research grants). On Wednesday, the heads of nine leading Canadian gold companies, including Goldcorp Inc. chairman Ian Telfer, a patient at Princess Margaret, presented six gold bars worth more than $3.28-million toward the campaign.