Terms of Reference - Stem Cell Oversight Committee


The Stem Cell Oversight Committee is a standing committee of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s (CIHR) Governing Council. The Stem Cell Oversight Committee evaluates and approves research proposals that use approved human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines and/or human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, using considerations set forth in Chapter 12, Section F of Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans(TCPS 2). Stem cell research proposals reviewed by SCOC include all those conducted under the auspices of institutions eligible to receive funding directly from an Agency, as per the TCPS 2 and the Tri-Agency Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions. The review is intended to complement, at a national level, the review undertaken by the investigator's own institution's Research Ethics Board.

Roles and Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of the Stem Cell Oversight Committee are to provide critical review of human stem cell research and strategic advice to Governing Council in the following areas:

Chair and Membership

The Stem Cell Oversight Committee consists of a Chair and a minimum of 9 additional voting members. Members are appointed by Governing Council on the advice of the Governance and Nominating Committee. A member of SCOC serves as an ex officio member on the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics. The CIHR President is an ex officio non-voting member.

Members are external to the Agency and appointed based on a range of expertise relevant to the mandate of the Committee. Areas of expertise include stem cell biology and therapeutics, developmental biology or embryology, health care (e.g., a professional specializing in reproductive medicine), ethics, law, and social sciences.

Other members may represent the voluntary health sector, public and patient groups, international stem cell research policy, and those with a general interest in health research. The appointment of members must consider representation from Indigenous, Francophone and equity-denied groups.


Members are appointed to serve an initial term of three years, and may be renewable once for a second term of up to three years.


Business meetings are held twice annually. In addition, virtual ad-hoc meetings are held as needed, to review human stem cell research proposals requiring full committee review.


A majority of its members (50% +1)


Bourinot’s Rules of Order, 4th Edition


The Stem Cell Oversight Committee does not have decision-making authority except for the approval or rejection of research applications utilizing existing SCOC-approved human embryonic stem lines and/or human pluripotent stem cells.

In all other matters, the Stem Cell Oversight Committee advises Governing Council and tables recommendations to Governing Council for decision.


The Stem Cell Oversight Committee shall prepare an annual written report to Governing Council for their Q1 meeting, to report on the previous fiscal year activities.


On an annual basis, a review of its Terms of Reference and re-affirmation of membership.


The Stem Cell Oversight Committee is supported by the Governance Branch and the Ethics Office who advise the Chair and committee members, prepare and distribute meeting materials, and enable timely follow-up of committee decisions and actions.

Terms of Reference

Revisions approved by Governing Council on November 29, 2023.

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