Institute Advisory Boards – Terms of reference

Sections 20 and 22 of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Act
CIHR By-Law Article 3, section 3.07 (e), (f), and (g)


An Institute Advisory Board (IAB) model that strikes a balance between the need for timely Institute-specific advice and cross-Institute advice.

A model centred on one IAB per Institute, with advice aligned with the directions and research priorities of the corporate strategic plan.

A model that fosters Institute collaborations, and strengthens ties to the research and broader health system community, while also supporting each Institute in achieving its own strategic objectives.


The vision is to build on the strengths of cross-Institute collaborations, while addressing the need for timely, Institute-specific advice; enhance Institutes’ overall ability to plan, function, and engage their respective communities; give Institutes access to a collective body of advisors who can be called upon to provide guidance on Institute-specific and where appropriate, cross-Institute initiatives and activities; and increase CIHR’s commitment to Indigenous health research.

The IAB acts in an advisory capacity to the Scientific Director with respect to the full range of Institute activity. The IAB:


The Institute Advisory Board (IAB) consists of 8 to 14 members, including the Chair and the Vice-Chair. Members and the Chair are appointed by the Governing Council. The Vice-Chair is elected by the IAB. All IAB members shall serve in a personal capacity and not represent a particular constituency. Members may be called upon, based on their background and expertise, to join an ad hoc cross-Institute advisory group that provides advice to several Institutes on a specific research area, issue or initiative of common interest.

The Governing Council shall appoint individuals who are able to contribute to the achievement of the objective of the CIHR in the overall interest of Canadians. The Governing Council shall consider appointing women and men who reflect the highest standards of scientific excellence and a range of relevant backgrounds and disciplines, such as researchers in the fields of biomedical research, clinical research and research respecting health systems, health services, the health of populations, societal and cultural dimensions of health and environmental influences on health. All members will be appointed to provide independent, expert and relevant advice to the Institute and diversity of views/perspectives.

Three seats on the IAB for the Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health will be reserved for representatives of the national Indigenous organizations.

One seat on the IAB for the Institute of Population and Public Health will be reserved for Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

The Scientific Director is a non-voting, ex-officio member of the IAB, and not eligible to serve as its Chair or Vice-Chair. Governing Council members, while not eligible to serve as IAB members, may attend any meeting of an IAB on an ad hoc basis.


Members shall be invited to serve initial terms of up to three years and may be reappointed for a second term of up to three years, for a maximum of six consecutive years of service on any one IAB. In order to maintain continuity, appointments will be staggered so that one-third of members will be considered for replacement or reappointment each year. Under extenuating circumstances, a member’s term may be extended for an additional year.


To be held face-to-face at least twice annually at the call of the Chair, following consultation with the Scientific Director. Additional meetings may be held by teleconference or virtually.


The IABs provide advice and, upon request, specific recommendations to Scientific Directors on matters relevant to their particular domain.


Service as an IAB member is voluntary. IAB members will be reimbursed at the Government of Canada rates for expenses incurred to attend meetings but will not receive honoraria or other financial compensation.

Financial support

Expenses associated with IAB meetings are covered through the Institute Support Grant of each Institute.

Conflict of interest

As members of a CIHR advisory body, all IAB members are required to abide by the CIHR Policy on Conflict of Interest Prevention and Management and to submit a declaration of external interests when first appointed and annually thereafter for the duration of their membership term.


These terms of reference shall be reviewed annually by the Governance and Nominating Committee.

Roles and responsibilities

Individual IAB members

Each IAB member serves in their individual capacity and will be expected to:

IAB Chair

In addition to meeting the above expectations, the Chair of the IAB is responsible for:

Scientific Director

Scientific Directors are responsible for:

Terms of reference

Approved by the Governing Council on November 15, 2017.

Last revised by the Governing Council on July 5, 2023.

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