National Council on Ethics in Human Research                        Conseil national d'éthique en recherche chez l'humain



The mission of the National Council on Ethics in  Human Research is: 
  • to advance the protection and promotion of the well-being of human participants in research; and
  • to foster high ethical standards for the conduct of research involving humans.

Council Origins   

When the Medical Research Council of Canada (MRC) reviewed its guidelines on research involving human subjects, it recognized that an ethics review system that relied on autonomous review by local Research Ethics Boards (REBs) required on-going support and information exchange. At the request of MRC and with funding from MRC and Health Canada, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada established the National Council on Ethics in Human Research. The College accepted this responsibility because specialists it certifies conduct most clinical research and because the College was already experienced in evaluating medical school programs.

To extend protection of subjects of research beyond MRC funded projects, the National Council on Ethics in Human Research includes representatives from key organizations in clinical research and from the public.

In 1995, the Coordinating Committee for NCEHR was established.  In part, it is "to serve as a forum for discussion and collaboration of institutional research ethics... particularly as regards NCEHR; in part, it is to provide financial and intellectual support to NCEHR so as to facilitate the discharge of its important responsibilities and the fulfillment of its mission."

Terms of Reference   

The National Council on Ethics in Human Research shall:
  1. Assist Research Ethics Boards (REBs) in interpreting and implementing guidelines for the ethics of research involving human subjects;
  2. Assist REBs in resolving contentious issues;
  3. Provide assistance to REBs in establishing and implementing procedures for evaluating and monitoring the performance of research involving human subjects;
  4. Establish an ongoing mechanism to assess the functions of REBs;
  5. Foster education, dialogue and understanding in and among institutions, REBs, researchers, professional personnel, organizations that fund research and the public, on the ethical aspects of research involving human subjects and the implementation of appropriate guidelines;
  6. Work with the ethics committees or divisions of the various Research Councils, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and Health Canada, to ensure that human research ethics guidelines or pronouncements meet the needs of research involving human subjects in Canada; and
  7. Assist the REBs, institutions and organizations that fund research in maintaining and developing expertise concerning the evolution of ethical perspectives on all aspects of research involving human subjects.
  8. Such expertise will involve traditional areas of research, those of newer science and technology, and particularly those relating to human cultural diversity in Canada.

Executive Responsibilities   

The Executive Committee assists the National Council to establish policies, set priorities and plan fulfillment of its mandate and goals. The Executive Committee serves as a steering committee for expert Working Committees and makes executive policy decisions between Council meetings. Its Finance Subcommittee oversees the budget.


Until 1995, members of Council were appointed by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Many of these individuals were representatives of health care organizations. Two persons from specific disciplines provided expertise in law and ethics as related to health science research; and three others were community members who brought a public perspective to Council's work.

Currently, Council appoints its own members. The membership has increased in number and in its range of representation to include individuals with an interest in research ethics as reflecting the constituencies represented by the membership of the Coordinating Committee. In addition to these individuals, Council includes persons with a specific disciplinary expertise in ethics and law, as well as community members.

Renewal or new appointments are made on a staggered basis through Council's nominating process.

List of Council Members   2007


Glenn Griener
Edmonton, AB

Padraig Darby
Toronto, ON

Denise Avard
Montreal, QC

Fern Brunger
St. John's, NL

Joan Cherry
Toronto, ON


Jack Corman
Aurora, ON

Pierre Deschamps
Montreal, QC

Michael Enzle
Edmonton, AB

Danielle Laudy
Montreal, QC

Michael Owen
St. Catharines, ON


Deborah Poff
Prince George, BC

Anne Robichaud
Moncton, NB

Heather A. Sampson
Toronto, ON

Marianne Vanderwel
Kirkland, QC

Don Willison
Hamilton, ON



Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC)
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC)
Canadian Association of Research Ethics Boards (CAREB)
Canadian Commission (UNESCO)
Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC)
Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CFHSS)

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI)
Health Canada (HC)
Health Charities Coalition of Canada (HCCC)
Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics (PRE)
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) 
Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP)
The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC)
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) 
Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D)