Our Program

Princess Margaret Cancer Biobank (PCMB) (formerly known as UHN Biobank) is a multi-site, large-scale biorepository for human biospecimens and associated clinical data. It was funded with the goal of supporting researchers in the execution of translational research to understand, detect and aid in the discovery of patient specific treatment for oncology and non-oncology diseases.

Affiliated to Canada’s University Health Network (UHN), its four academic hospitals, and six research institutes, Princess Margaret Cancer Biobank has provided support to more than 100 clinical trials ranging from single-site investigator-initiated pilot studies to large-scale sponsor-initiated clinical trials, to support novel product development and biomarkers both locally and internationally.

With over 20 years of experience, our biobank provides a wide variety of services to facilitate research through the ethical collection, processing, annotation, storage, and distribution of high-quality biospecimens. Our collection of biospecimens ranges from fresh, frozen, formalin fixed, and paraffin embedded (FFPE) surgically resected tissue and biopsy cores, along with compartmentalized blood components such as serum, plasma, whole blood, and various body fluids. PMCB also houses snap frozen samples for long-term storage.

Additional services include the construction of tissue microarray (TMA), analysis of TMA sections, Laser Capture Microdisection (LCM) services, digital slide scanning, quantitative and qualitative image, and pathological/clinical analysis for various tumour sites.


Princess Margaret Cancer Biobank aims to foster and enhance local and global collaborations in research to drive innovation and discovery through the standardized and ethical procurement, processing, storage, and dissemination of high-quality biospecimens and their associated clinical data


Through the ethical procurement of human biospecimens PMCB aims to enable access to specimens and accompanying annotated data for academic and industry collaborators. By fostering novel research, we hope to move towards improving personalized medicine and providing regional and national leadership in biobanking operations.

Bioethics and Privacy

At Princess Margaret Cancer Biobank, we are committed to employing the highest standard of ethics and best practices through the collection, storage and dissemination of human tissue and research biospecimens. All of our processes comply with existing Canadian federal, provincial and institutional requirements pertaining to the participation of patients in research as well as the collection and use of research biospecimens and accompanying clinical data.

To protect the donor’s Personal Health Information (PHI), Princess Margaret Cancer Biobank de-identifies patient samples using a participant protocol identifier (PPID) generated by our specimen management system. No personal health information (PHI) is found on samples or shared with researchers.

Princess Margaret Cancer Biobank ensures all collaborating institutions and their research applications for biospecimens, and clinical data have been approved by the Research Ethics Boards (REBs) of participating healthcare institutions.

Executive Committee

Photo of Dr Neil Fleshner

Dr. Neil Fleshner, MD, MPH, FRCS(c)

  • Director and Founder, McCain GU BioBank
  • Principal Investigator, Princess Margaret Cancer Biobank
Photo of Heidi Wagner

Heidi Wagner, PA, BSc

  • Head of Operations, Princess Margaret Cancer Biobank

Dr. Hal Berman MD, PHD

  • Scientific Advisor, Princess Margaret Cancer Biobank


Our Facility


Our processing facilities are located in Toronto General Hospital and Princess Margaret Cancer Center in Downtown Toronto. Equipped with state-of-the-art lab equipment including temperature-controlled centrifuges, Bio-safety cabinets, chemical fume hoods, ultra-low-temperature freezers fitted with freezer alarm system and O2 sensor enabled cryostorage facility.


Our program has the advanced tools for specimen cataloguing and clinical data annotation by utilizing advanced Biobank Information Management System (BIMS) that allows interdependence between internal databases and external clinical and/or research databases. This seamless linkage of biospecimens to internal and associated clinical data helps bridge the gap between healthcare and innovative research.


Our quality management system ensures the highest quality of specimens and data, while guarding the donor’s safety and rights, including the privacy and confidentiality.

Specimen quality assurance processes have been put in place to assess cell count, cell viability and tissue integrity. Data quality assurance processes have also been implemented to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the data we store. Validation of our processes enables our stakeholders to have confidence in our sample quality and data accuracy and give added credence and reproducibility to research results.