Research Ethics Board: About the REB
The Health Canada - PHAC REB reviews all research involving humans that is conducted under the auspices of Health Canada and PHAC to ensure that it meets the highest ethical standards, and that the greatest protection is provided to research participants.
The REB's activities and committee structure are guided by the principles of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, which sets the standard for research ethics boards in Canada.
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Mandate and scope
REB mandate and reporting
The Health Canada-PHAC REB serves as an independent ethics review board to help ensure that all proposed or ongoing research involving human participants or communities carried out by, funded by, or otherwise under the auspices of Health Canada or PHAC, meets the highest ethical standards. In so doing, it helps ensure that safeguards are implemented to provide the greatest protection to human participants and/or communities. The REB makes recommendations to Health Canada or PHAC as to whether research projects should be approved, rejected, modified, or terminated. The REB reviews applications in accordance with the considerations set forth in the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans as the minimum standard, and other applicable policies and norms.
Health Canada's REB became operational on September 1, 2002. On April 1, 2010, the REB became a joint board for both PHAC and Health Canada. The REB reports to the Deputy Minister of Health and the President of PHAC, who jointly appoint REB members, approve REB procedures and authorize research to be initiated or terminated. The Deputy Minister and President have delegated their decisional authority functions to a senior official within Health Canada and PHAC respectively, each of whom is referred to as the Decisional Authority in Research Ethics.
Scope of REB review
The Health Canada-PHAC REB shall review all research involving human subjects in circumstances where the research is:
- Carried out by Health Canada or PHAC employees in the course of their employment;
- Carried out on Health Canada or PHAC premises, or involves technical or consultation support including the use of equipment, laboratories or other facilities belonging to HC or PHAC;
- Undertaken in a collaboration or partnership between Health Canada or PHAC and external researchers; or
- Carried out under contract with Health Canada or PHAC.
The REB may also review research that is funded by Health Canada or PHAC through grants and contributions to external researchers who do not have access to another TCPS-compliant REB.
Research involving humans as "research participants" includes research with:
- Living individuals;
- Human remains, cadavers, embryos or fetuses;
- Human biological materials such as tissues, organs, blood, plasma, serum, DNA, RNA, proteins, cells, hair, nail clippings, feces, urine, saliva and other body fluids; and
- Information from or about humans, such as information obtained through questionnaires, or from records of nonliving humans that are not in the public domain.
For the purposes of this REB, research is defined as an activity designed to test a hypothesis or answer a specific question, permit conclusions to be drawn and develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge through the use of scientific methods, standardized protocols, systematic collection or analysis of data, or other forms of inquiry. Research may rely upon quantitative methods or qualitative approaches. It also includes experimental development of new products or processes.
Examples of activities that do not meet this definition of research and therefore do not require REB review include public opinion research, public consultations, research using publicly available information, and routine public health investigations and surveillance activities. Some boundaries between research and non-research activities may be difficult to define. Whenever there is uncertainty as to whether a proposed activity requires REB review, applicants should consult the REB Secretariat or (for PHAC researchers) the PHAC Office of the Chief Science Officer (OCSO).
Committee structure and responsibilities of members
The REB membership is intended to ensure that the REB has the expertise and independence essential for conducting competent research ethics reviews. The REB consists of nine regular and nine alternate members with expertise in the following areas:
- Two members with knowledge/expertise in research ethics;
- One member with knowledge/expertise in law;
- One member from Health Canada with methodological knowledge/expertise in Health Canada research;
- One member from PHAC with methodological knowledge/expertise in PHAC research;
- One member external to Health Canada and PHAC with broad methodological knowledge/expertise in both Health Canada and PHAC research;
- One member with broad expertise in public health;
- One member recruited from the community (general population) served by Health Canada and PHAC; and
- One member from the Indigenous community.
Members are appointed by the Deputy Minister of Health and the President of PHAC. The mandate for each member is for three years and is renewable.
All REB member positions are voluntary and no financial remuneration is offered. However, travel, accommodation expenses, parking and other authorized REB meeting expenses are reimbursed through the REB Secretariat.
Responsibilities of REB members
The REB members review the ethical acceptability of research projects, reflecting on, for example, potential risks and benefits; respect for, and protection of, research participants; and relevance and rigour of the research.
The following expectations, qualities and skills are required of all members to ensure quorum and optimal group dynamic:
- Be available and willing to commit time for board meetings (including preparation time);
- Participate actively in discussions with other REB members, providing input to research applications/protocols and input in drafting REB documents and procedures;
- Be a team player – present views and opinions clearly and directly, contribute constructively to debate and possess skills that promote working effectively together;
- Listen attentively and respectfully to other members; and
- Consider complex issues thoughtfully and objectively.
REB meeting attendance
The full REB meets monthly (except for August), either by teleconference or face-to-face in Ottawa. Quorum requires that at least five members (regular or alternate) be present, including one member knowledgeable in ethics, one member knowledgeable in law, one member from the community, and two members with expertise in relevant research disciplines, fields and methodologies covered by the REB. All regular and alternate members are invited to the two-day meeting held each June, which includes a focus on REB member training in addition to the regular research ethics review work.
All REB members (regular and alternate) are also expected to participate on a rotating basis in delegated review meetings (typically three or four per year). Delegated review meetings are held weekly by teleconference (biweekly in July and August) and consist of the Chair (or Deputy Chair) and one other REB member.
Chair and Ethics Member
Glenn G. Griener, Ph.D.
Glenn G. Griener is a philosopher whose primary areas of scholarly activity are applied ethics and the philosophy of science, with a particular focus on the issues arising in health care and the ethics of biomedical research. He has conducted research into the privacy and confidentiality concerns arising from the development of electronic health records. Dr. Griener has been asked to provide advice on these issues by both the Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services. He has also participated in or led several bodies developing national policy on research ethics.
Dr. Griener has a B.Sc. in physics (Loyola University, New Orleans) and an M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Western Ontario. He retired from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Alberta in 2019. During his long career at the University Dr. Griener enjoyed joint appointments with the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, the Faculty of Nursing and the School of Public Health.
Nancy Walton, B.Sc.N., Ph.D. (Deputy Chair)
Dr. Nancy Walton is the Associate Dean, Student Affairs in the Yeates School of Graduate Studies, and an Associate Professor in the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing, at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU). At TMU since 2003, she has previously served as Director of the School of Nursing, as Director of eLearning, and as the Chair of the TMU Research Ethics Board. In 2016-17 she was seconded to the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities as Special Advisor to the Deputy Minister. Dr. Walton also served as the Chair of the Women's College Hospital Research Ethics Board from 2016 to 2021. In 2022, Dr. Walton was appointed to the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics.
Dr. Walton has a PhD in Nursing with completion of the Collaborative Program in Bioethics from the University of Toronto (2003) and an undergraduate degree in nursing science from TMU (1992). She has published and presented on priority setting and decision-making in cardiac surgery, ethical considerations of internet-based research, research ethics board composition, and ethical and legal considerations in research on children and adolescents, and most recently on ethical issues arising in the Ebola virus disease outbreak as well as the ethical concerns and opportunities of new mobile technologies and artificial intelligence in health care. Her primary areas of research and interest are the experiences of parenting children with disabilities, the ethical considerations in the use of technologies and innovations in healthcare and moral courage.
Dr. Walton is a longstanding member with expertise in ethics on the Research Ethics Board at the Hospital for Sick Children, a founding member of the Research Ethics Board at the Ontario College of Art and Design University and remains an ad hoc member of the TMU REB. She was a previous member of the National Council on Ethics in Human Research (NCEHR) and is a member of both CAREB (Canadian Association of Research Ethics Boards) and PRIMR (Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research). In 2016, she received the CAREB Distinguished Service Award.
She is the Canadian author of the textbook Ethics and Issues in Contemporary Nursing (3rd edition) and is the co-editor of the textbook Leading and Managing in Nursing (2019).
Stéphane P. Ahern, M.A. (Philosophy), MD, Ph.D., FRCPC (alternate)
Dr. Stéphane P. Ahern is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Université de Montréal in the Faculty of Medicine. He is a specialist in general internal medicine and adult critical care. Since 2007, he has served as Chair or Vice-Chair of the Research Ethics Board (REB) at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital and now at CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Ile-de-Montréal - REBs operating in fields at the forefront of stem cell transplantation, psychiatry, advanced ophthalmologic therapy and oncology, among others. He was Chair of the Standing Scientific Committee on Entry on the List of Medications of the Institut national d'excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS) of Quebec for several years, during which time he was interested in responsibly bringing innovation to the fields of oncology and rare diseases.
Dr. Ahern holds a Master's degree in Philosophy from the Université de Sherbrooke and a PhD in Clinical Sciences, also from the Université de Sherbrooke, where the theme of his research was assessing the capacity to consent to treatment.
Julie Toole, RM, MHSc (alternate)
Julie Toole holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Development from Trent University, a Bachelor of Health Sciences in Midwifery from Ryerson University, and a Master of Health Sciences degree in Medical Sciences, Bioethics from the University of Toronto. She has worked as a Registered Midwife in Toronto, where her practice focused largely on serving uninsured clients and the urban Indigenous community and currently works as a Quality & Risk Management Specialist at the Association of Ontario Midwives. Her particular areas of interest include management of adverse events, outbreaks and pandemics, clinical ethics, privacy, and mental health; clinical areas of interest include equity, informed choice, and prenatal genetic screening. Ms. Toole currently co-leads two ethics task forces, one focused on ethical issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the other on the creation of a code of ethics for midwives in Ontario. She supervises both midwifery undergraduate students and graduate students in the fields of bioethics and public health.
Jean-Frédéric Ménard, LL.B., B.C.L., Ph.D. (Deputy Chair)
Me Jean-Frédéric Ménard is a professor at the Faculty of Law of Université de Sherbrooke since 2017. He teaches the civil law of persons, ethics in the life sciences and the organization of the healthcare system in the Health Law and Policy graduate programme. He is a member of the Quebec Bar since 2007. Upon graduating from McGill, Me Ménard served as a law clerk to the Honourable Justice Louise Charron of the Supreme Court of Canada. Before joining the Université de Sherbrooke Me Ménard worked as an ethicist with the Centre for Applied Ethics of the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal.
Me Ménard holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Université Laval (BA, 2001) and law degrees from McGill University (BCL / LLB, 2005), the University of Oxford (Mansfield College, BCL, 2012) and University College London (PhD, 2021). He is a member of GRIIS (Interdisciplinary Research Group in Health Informatics), Centre de recherche sur la régulation et le droit de la gouvernance (CrRDG; Research Centre for Regulation and Governance Rights) and VOICE: Views On Interdisciplinary Childhood Ethics.
Melanie McPhail, J.D., LL.M. (alternate)
Melanie McPhail is currently a Research Associate, Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, focusing on the development of, access to, and funding of expensive treatments for rare diseases. Previously, she has worked as a policy analyst for the Department of Canadian Heritage on the international affairs team and a course instructor at Western University in the Faculty of Health Sciences teaching health policy and advanced health policy.
Ms. McPhail received her Bachelor's degree from Queen's University, where she majored in geography and environmental studies, and her Juris Doctor degree from Western University. After completing her JD, Ms. McPhail completed her Masters of Laws (LLM) from Western University under the supervision of Dr. Jacob Shelley. Her master's research focused on the intersection of public health and the law, analyzing the constitutionality of advertising restrictions on recreational cannabis in Canada. Ms. McPhail is currently a PhD student in the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia. Her PhD research focuses on the regulation of innovative health technologies.
Health Canada Researcher
Louis Forti, B.Sc. (Hons), D.E.S.S., M.Sc., Ph.D. (alternate)
Louis Forti obtained his Ph.D. degree in Medical Sciences (Option: Gerontology) and a Master's degree of Biomedical Science in Cell and Gene Therapy from the Free University of Brussels, Belgium. His research activities focused on investigating the effect of physical exercise on inflammation in older persons and various projects on diabetes. He is also academically trained in drug regulatory affairs (post-graduate Diploma in Drug Development and Master of Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Montreal).
Dr. Forti has worked as Regulatory Affairs Officer for the Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate at Health Canada where he reviewed non-prescription drugs to ensure they complied with the Plain Language Labelling Regulations. The regulations improve the safe use of drugs by making drug labels and packaging easier to read and understand by Canadians. Dr. Forti currently works as a Scientific Evaluator at Health Canada's Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate. He routinely conducts critical reviews of disinfectant drug submissions for efficacy and safety to support regulatory decision-making. He is author and co-author of several peer reviewed publications and a scientific contributor with the Frailty in Ageing Research group (FRIA) of the Free University of Brussels, Belgium.
Public Health Agency of Canada Researcher
Stephanie Booth, B.Sc., D. Phil.
Stephanie Booth is the Public Health Agency of Canada's senior research scientist on prion diseases and has a laboratory at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. She completed her Bachelor's degree in Microbiology at University College London, followed by a Doctorate in Biochemistry and Virology at the University of Oxford. Her primary research interests include developing innovative molecular techniques for surveillance and diagnosis of human prion diseases (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease) and understanding the molecular mechanisms by which infectious prions kill brain cells.
Elizabeth Rolland Harris, M.Sc., Ph.D. (alternate)
Dr. Elizabeth Rolland-Harris has nearly 25 years of experience in public health and epidemiology, across multiple levels of government. She joined the Public Health Agency of Canada in 2019 where she oversaw the Guidelines and Global Health Division’s Scientific Team, responsible for supporting the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care. Subsequent to this, she joined the Testing Directorate in 2021 as Scientific Director.
Prior to joining the Agency, Dr. Rolland-Harris worked for the Department of National Defence where she was Co-PI and Project Lead for the Canadian Forces Cancer and Mortality Study II, which created a nearly 40-year census of Regular Force personnel to study all-cause mortality and cancer morbidity outcomes during and following military service.
Dr. Rolland-Harris’ areas of expertise include public health surveillance, outbreak and pandemic response, evidence-based guideline development, health outcomes research, respiratory infectious disease epidemiology and occupational epidemiology. She holds a MSc in Epidemiology from the University of Toronto and a PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (UK).
Researcher External to Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada
Lehana Thabane, B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D., EMISI, FASA, FSCT, FCAHS
Dr. Lehana Thabane is a Professor of Biostatistics and Interim Chair of the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact; Associate member of the Departments of Pediatrics and Anesthesia, School of Nursing, and School of Rehabilitation Science, in the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University (Hamilton, ON). He is also the Director of Biostatistics at St Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton. He is a former member of the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics, and has served as a member of the Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board for almost 20 years. He is an Elected Member of the International Statistical Institute, Fellow of the American Statistical Association, Fellow of the Society for Clinical Trials, and Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.
Dr. Thabane's research interests include clinical trials, pragmatic trials, pilot and feasibility trials; reporting of trials; systematic reviews; and mentorship. He is a member of several professional societies that include the International Statistical Institute, the American Statistical Association, the International Society of Clinical Biostatistics, the Society for Clinical Trials, and the Statistical Society of Canada. He is member of the Working Groups for the CONSORT extension to pilot trials, and the CONSORT extension to trials using cohorts and routinely collected health data. Having mentored over 100 graduate students and junior faculty, Dr. Thabane has won several teaching and mentorship awards; he is also the clinical trials mentor for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and CIHR Drug Safety and Effectiveness Cross-disciplinary Training (DSECT) Program. He has co-authored over 700 peer-reviewed publications.
Public Health Community Member
Michael Wray Clarke, Ph.D.
Dr. Michael Wray Clarke is an adjunct professor in the Interfaculty Program in Public Health at Western University where his teaching focusses on global health practice and research. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Middlesex Hospital Alliance. As well, he is a member of the Editorial Board of Globalization and Health, a BioMed Central journal, and former Chief Executive Officer of the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
Dr. Clarke was the inaugural Director of the Global Health Policy Program Area at the International Development Research Centre in Ottawa where he founded the Advisory Committee on Research Ethics and served as Chair for two years. In this capacity he worked with the Secretariat on Responsible Conduct of Research to develop a CORE module on the ethics of multi-jurisdictional research.
Previously, he was a professor in the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry where his research focussed on the molecular genetics of African trypanosomes. He also served as Chair of the University Council on Animal Care for three years and served as Chair for many site visits and assessments at university research facilities on behalf of the Canadian Council on Animal Care.
Dr. Clarke's formative years were in Sierra Leone where he served as a CUSO co-operant as a teacher and researcher. He has a PhD from the Department of Pathology of the University of Guelph.
Diane Lu, MD, Ph.D., MPH, FRCPC (alternate)
Dr. Diane Lu is a public health physician and medical advisor in communicable diseases in the Department of National Defence. She also provides clinical care services with Correctional Services Canada. Dr. Lu has adjunct appointments to both the University of Ottawa and Queen’s University working with public health and preventive medicine residents. Her current research interests include health surveillance of Canadian Armed Forces members. Dr. Lu holds both an MD and PhD degree from the University of Toronto and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. She also earned a Master’s of Public Health from Queen’s University and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada.
Community Member - General Population
Janaki Jayanthan, MPH
Ms. Janaki Jayanthan is a Senior Primary Care Program Developer (Vancouver Island) with the Primary Care Division of the British Columbia Ministry of Health. In her current role she supports the implementation of Urgent and Primary Care Centres and Community Health Centres as part of provincial efforts towards team-based primary and community care. Ms. Jayanthan's passion and appreciation for research ethics began while supporting the work of the Conjoint Faculties and Conjoint Health Research Ethics Boards at the University of Calgary over a four-year period. As a Research Ethics Advisor, she worked alongside researchers, the REB Chairs and members, and her administrator colleagues to navigate complex issues in the protection of participants in research, laying the foundation for a lasting interest in the field.
Ms. Jayanthan has contributed to public health research and community-based projects in Canada and abroad in diverse areas such as the experiences of marginalized groups in self-managing their chronic conditions in Vancouver, patient reported measures of outpatient care quality in Sri Lanka, antibiotic knowledge and use in central Mexico and household water treatment in Eastern Bolivia. Ms. Jayanthan holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the University of Calgary and a Masters of Public Health (Global Health) from Simon Fraser University.
Sandra Romain, B.Sc., Ph.D.
Dr. Sandra Romain completed a direct-entry Ph.D. at the University of Toronto in Medical Anthropology in 2016, where she was the recipient of both CIHR and Ontario Graduate Scholarships. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Medical Anthropology from the University of Toronto Scarborough.
Her community-based research in Nunavut considered how policy, Inuit culture and Indigenous language preservation legislation influence pharmacy health care. She has published and presented extensively on a variety of issues including peer-reviewed articles on Indigenous health literacy, pharmaceutical policy, immunization uptake, Arctic One Health initiatives and prenatal care. She has taught undergraduate courses at the University of Toronto and Trent University. In 2018, Dr. Romain joined Indigenous Services Canada, working with the National Indigenous Economic Development Board to advocate for the improvement of Indigenous economic development. In 2021, she accepted a temporary assignment at the Public Health Agency of Canada as the Associate Director of Vaccine Confidence Policy in COVID Vaccine Rollout.
Madzouka Kokolo, M.Sc., M.A. (alternate)
Madzouka Kokolo is academically trained both in Epidemiology (Master of Science, University of Ottawa) and in Public Ethics (Master of Arts, Saint Paul University). She has been involved in health science projects in academic, governmental and non-profit contexts, locally, nationally, and internationally (e.g., Canadian Society for International Health, United Nations Population Fund). Her M.Sc. thesis quantitatively analyzed intersections between methods and ethics considerations in the design of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis trials, which involved populations in situations of vulnerability. Her research contributed to increasing awareness and clearing misconceptions on that (then) novel intervention in the community (e.g., collaboration with the Canadian AIDS Society).
Having previous work experience as a Methodologist (Ottawa Hospital Research Institute), Ms. Kokolo has extensive knowledge and experience in clinical research designs, research conduct and methodological assessments, and is a published author. She also worked as an Epidemiologist in Health Canada's Health Products and Food Branch, routinely conducting critical appraisals of scientific evidence to support regulatory decision-making. Ms. Kokolo is currently working as a Senior Policy Analyst in the Office of the Chief Accessibility Officer at Employment and Social Development Canada.
Community Member - Indigenous Population
Jean Levasseur-Moreau, Ph.D.
Jean Levasseur-Moreau is an Innu from the community of Essipit, where he grew up. In 2017, he received his PhD in experimental medicine from Laval University. His academic research focused on the clinical, cognitive and neurobiological effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation in military personnel diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder that was resistant to usual treatments. During his studies, he obtained several awards from the Fonds de Recherche en Santé du Québec and the Tshakapesh Institute. He was also involved in the Indigenous Student Association as well as a regional representative for Indspire, an organization that provides scholarships to Indigenous students in need. Dr. Levasseur-Moreau is also a mentor on the Academos platform for the New Pathways Foundation and the Myriagone Chair, a position aimed at helping young people find their dream career.
Dr. Levasseur-Moreau has worked in the field of governance at the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission, where he had the privilege of visiting almost all First Nations communities in Quebec and witnessing the major issues related to health. He is currently working for the Police Ethics Commissioner of the Ministry of Public Security as an Indigenous liaison to promote access to justice for Indigenous people and to offer culturally sensitive services. Since the fall of 2020, he has also been a member of the Human Research Ethics Committee of the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue.
Kathleen Makela, B.A., LL.B. (alternate)
Kathleen Makela, a member of the Fort Resolution Métis Nation in the Northwest Territories, lives in Edmonton, Alberta. A descent of Old Man Beaulieu on her mother's side, and Finnish on her father's side (he is a first-generation Canadian), she is deeply committed to improving the socio-economic conditions of Indigenous people through access to equitable, culturally relevant and responsive education and legal systems.
Ms. Makela holds a BA interdisciplinary honors degree with distinction from Saint Thomas University and a law degree from the University of New Brunswick. She is currently an Indigenous Support Officer at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law. Over the years, Ms. Makela has had the good fortune to work with many traditional knowledge keepers and she appreciates the importance of spiritual teachings and ceremonies.
Become a member
The Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada Research Ethics Board welcomes membership applications from interested individuals at any time. If there are no openings, applications will be kept on file for future consideration.
There are no openings at this time.
Individuals who would like to apply to become an REB member should send their curriculum vitae along with a covering letter outlining their interest and how they meet the criteria to:
Dr. Gregory Huyer
Manager, Health Canada-PHAC REB Secretariat
Tel : 613-941-5199
We thank all those who apply.
Only applicants chosen for an interview will be contacted.
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