The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center has awarded Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute a $10 million grant to support the expansion of its pioneering cancer imaging research program.

The MLSC grant will help fund the establishment of the Molecular Cancer Imaging Facility, a $20 million research initiative to develop new molecular imaging probes. The facility will ultimately allow physicians to better diagnose and characterize cancer, choose targeted therapies, monitor treatment efficacy, and improve the outcomes of adult and pediatric patients with cancer. The expansion is projected to create more than 100 construction jobs, and 15 jobs to operate the facility. Funding for the grant comes from the state’s 10-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative, proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick in 2007 and approved by the legislature in 2008.

“Molecular imaging holds tremendous promise for accelerating drug discovery by allowing more rapid assessment of drug efficacy in preclinical and clinical settings,” says Barrett Rollins, Dana-Farber’s chief scientific officer. “Moreover, molecular imaging will play a key role in the delivery of personalized medicine, by allowing clinicians to determine whether specific drugs are effective in days instead of months.”

Non-invasive imaging methods that can visualize, characterize and measure biological processes at the molecular and cellular levels in living systems (“molecular imaging”) are a critical step to speeding the pace of new therapies, according to Andrew Kung, director of preclinical imaging at Dana-Farber.