Ethics in Human Research

red checkbox Please Note

The University of Toronto’s Research Ethics Boards (REBs) are accepting all submissions of Face to Face (F2F) human research as one of two separate review processes. The REB review process focuses as usual on human research ethics issues. The second review process by the Face-to-Face COVID-19 Review Committee (F2FCRC) focuses specifically on COVID-19 health and safety risks to research participants. Approvals from both review processes are required before F2F research activities can commence. Please see the detailed instructions for the submission process.

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 faculty, staff and student researchers in the development, review, and oversight of human research to ensure compliance with applicable laws, regulations and policies.

Who is this for?

All individuals at U of T who conduct research involving human participants or personal information.

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?

Faculty members should first ensure they are 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 faculty, staff and students 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.

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 faculty, staff and student 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