Task Force on Ethics Reform: Terms of Reference


Task-Force on Ethics Reform at CIHR

CIHR Staff Lead

Danika Goosney


Chair: Bartha Knoppers (Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Human Genetics, McGill University)

Tim Caulfield (University of Alberta)
Jim Lavery (University of Toronto)
Michael McDonald (University of British Columbia)
Daryl Pullman (Memorial University of Newfoundland)

CIHR Staff:
Danika Goosney (Director of the CIHR Ethics Office)
Geneviève Dubois-Flynn (Manager of the CIHR Ethics Office)

Terms of Reference


CIHR’s mandate in the area of ethics is to promote and support health research that meets the highest standards of ethics; to foster the discussion of ethical issues and the application of ethical principles to health research; and to monitor, analyze, and evaluate ethical issues, pertaining to health or health research.

Since CIHR’s inception in 2000, Ethics at CIHR and across the Tri-Councils has evolved. This includes the expansion of the Secretariat on Research Ethics (which now includes the promotion of the responsible conduct of research), the establishment of the Stem Cell Oversight Committee and the creation of several Working Groups and Advisory Committees with ethics mandates for CIHR strategic initiatives.

Also, many changes have occurred since 2000 that have affected delivery on CIHR’s Ethics mandate. These include: (1) modifications of the terms of reference of Governing and Science Councils; (2) release of CIHR’s Health Research Roadmap (2009-2014); (3) reduction of the number of IAB members, potentially affecting the role of the Ethics Designates; (4) harmonization of ethics across the Tri-Agencies; and (5) reorganization of CIHR’s portfolios with the Ethics Office now falling under the Research and Knowledge Translation portfolio.


The objective of the Task Force on Ethics Reform at CIHR is to evaluate whether CIHR currently meets its ethics mandate and whether the current organizational structure is optimal to do so. Specifically, the Task Force will be expected to review and make recommendations to CIHR’s Governing Council on:

  1. CIHR’s performance in the area of ethics since its inception;
  2. Innovative ways for CIHR to meet its ethics mandate;
  3. Evolving needs in the ethics field and gaps that must be filled to address them in alignment with CIHR’s Health Research Roadmap (2009-2014);
  4. Current structures and their appropriateness to meet the CIHR ethics mandate in the future;
  5. Role, accountability, and interrelationships of resulting entities should a new delivery structure be recommended.


Governing Council


Meetings will be convened by the Task-Force Chair and conducted on a bi-weekly basis or as required. Meetings will be held by teleconference unless otherwise required.

Decisions will be made by consensus wherever possible and by majority vote where consensus cannot be achieved.


A majority of its voting members (50% plus 1).


It is anticipated that the Task-Force will provide its draft report to Governing Council by mid-March, 2013, and that the Task Force Chair will present her recommendations at the Council’s June 26, 2013 meeting.


Approved by the Executive Committee by electronic vote on October 5, 2012

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