Ethical Guidelines and Regulations

The Population Council is a global leader in promoting human rights and ethical standards in research. Our work has earned a worldwide reputation for excellence and integrity.

Policymakers, program managers, and others concerned with population, reproductive health, and development turn to the Council for its rigorous research results that improve people's lives.

Our research is grounded in the highest ethical standards, including safeguarding the rights and welfare of the individuals who participate in studies. Our methodologies are approved by an Institutional Review Board, and our researchers are held to the highest professional standards. All Council investigators involved in studies reviewed by its IRB must provide proof of completion of a recent, approved ethical training course.

The Council’s IRB has 12 members, whose expertise includes bioethics, biomedical engineering, demography, health care, HIV and AIDS, international relations, law, obstetrics/gynecology, physiology, public policy, regulatory affairs, and social psychology. It meets six times per year.

In addition to the IRB, the Population Council’s general counsel and secretary and its global head of regulatory affairs and quality assurance ensure compliance with international standards and all applicable laws and regulations in countries in which research activities are conducted.

As well as ensuring that the Council’s own work is conducted with maximum adherence to ethical standards, Council researchers contribute to the peer-reviewed literature on ethical research and improve methodologies to secure informed consent from volunteers in clinical trials.

Council staff also provide training to developing-country professionals on research ethics and publications ethics as part of an operations research skills course.