Stem cell research

Stem cell research has the potential to provide treatments for a host of debilitating diseases, but at the same time raises ethical and social issues and legal concerns of interest to Canadians.


In response to rapidly evolving science and shifting public opinion, and to ensure ethical and scientific oversight, CIHR developed Guidelines for Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research in 2002.

In December 2014, the CIHR Guidelines were integrated into the 2nd edition of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2), Chapter 12, section F. TCPS 2 (2014) replaces TCPS 2 (2010) as the official human research ethics policy of the agencies.

Please consult the Panel on Research Ethics for detailed information about the integration of the Guidelines into TCPS 2 (2014). Frequently Asked Questions also provide further clarification about the rationale for, and impact of the integration. CIHR has also developed a resource describing the development of guidance for human pluripotent stem cell research over the years.

Contact information

The former CIHR Guidelines for Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research (2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2010), the Report of the ad hoc working group (2002) and Discussion paper (2001) are available in electronic format on request. Please contact:

Lynne Scholten
Advisor, Ethics

Stem Cell Oversight Committee (SCOC)

A stem cell oversight committee (SCOC) was created by CIHR in 2003. SCOC reviews all research involving human pluripotent stem cells that have been derived from an embryonic source and/or will be transferred into humans or non-human animals to ensure compliance with Chapter 12, Section F, of the TCPS 2 (2014).

Over the years, SCOC has produced a series of reference documents to help researchers determine whether their proposals need to be reviewed, and if so, how to submit them. SCOC also maintains a list of human embryonic stem cell lines derived under the auspices of Institutions eligible to receive Agency funds (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC).