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.

On this page

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:

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:

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:

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:

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



Health Canada Researcher

Public Health Agency of Canada Researcher

Researcher External to Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada

Public Health Community Member

Community Member - General Population

Community Member - Indigenous Population

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.

Current Opportunities

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.

Page details

Date modified: