Ethics in Human Research

What is the Human Research Ethics Unit?

The University of Toronto’s (U of T) Human Research Ethics Unit (HREU) oversees ethics in human research. The HREU provides administrative support to the University Research Ethics Boards (REBs) and to researchers in the development, review, and oversight of human research to ensure compliance with applicable laws, regulations and policies.

Why is this program in place?

To comply with Tri-Agency requirements as well as provincial legislation and institutional policies.

What do I need before I can begin?

Ensure eligible to conduct research at U of T.

Students, post-doctoral fellows and visiting scholars require a Faculty Supervisor or Sponsor to conduct research at U of T. They should also:


Research involving human participants conducted by researchers at or under the auspices of the U of T must be reviewed and approved by a University of Toronto Research Ethics Board (REB) prior to its commencement. Only REB-approved human research may be conducted.

This review is to ensure that human participants rights and welfare are protected and respected, as well as to meet funding sponsor requirements.

Each institution within the Toronto Academic Health Sciences Network (TAHSN) has their own independent REB. If human research will be conducted at a hospital and also involves the University (e.g. research to be used for a graduate student’s thesis, recruitment, data analysis), a TAHSN hospital REB review is required, followed by administrative review at the University.


‘Research’ is defined as an undertaking intended to extend knowledge through a disciplined inquiry or systematic investigation.

‘Human participants’ is defined as those individuals whose data, or responses to interventions, stimuli or questions by the researcher, are relevant to answering the research question.

‘Research Ethics Board’ (REB) is an arm’s-length independent committee mandated to review the ethical acceptability of human research in accordance with federal, provincial and institutional requirements.

‘Ethics Protocol’ is a document describing how the research will be conducted from a participant-centric perspective to ensure that all ethical requirements and standards are maintained.


  • Coordinate and administer U of T’s Research Ethics Boards
  • Provide ethics consultation services
  • Give guidance and advice for writing and submitting a human ethics protocol
  • Provide training and education for researchers

VPRI Contact


General Inquiries: Human Research & Ethics Unit (HREU)

Research Oversight & Compliance Office (ROCO)
(416) 946-3273


Mariya Gancheva

Research Ethics Coordinator - Human Research Ethics
Research Oversight & Compliance Office (ROCO)
(416) 946-3273