About Us: Funding

Statement on Sources of Funding – July 1, 2009

Fast Facts

    • A partnership of the University of Toronto (including 9 academic departments) and 13 health sector partner organizations
    • A World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Bioethics and the inaugural chair of the Global Network of WHO Collaborating Centres in Bioethics
    • Over 25 practicing ethicists in affiliated health partner organizations and 141 active members involved in bioethics scholarship and practice
    •  Mission: To improve healthcare through leadership in bioethics research, education, practice, and public engagement
    • Financial support provided from the following sources: University of Toronto and JCB partners (428%); research grants from government (56%); individuals and foundations 2%); we do not have any current industry funding.


    Brody, B. et al; Bioethics Consultation in the Private Sector, Hastings Centre Report 32 no.3, pp. 14-20; May-June2002. www.thehastingscenter.org Sharpe V. Science, bioethics and the public interest: On the need for transparency, Hastings Center Report 32, no.3, pp. 23-26, May/June 2002. www.thehastingscenter.org Centre for Science in the Public Interest, Newsroom, CSPI Calls for Prevention and Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest in Bioethics, June 11,2002. www.integrityinscience.org Link to: Walt, G, Brugha, R. and Haines A. Working with the private sector: the need for institutional guidelines, BMJ 2002;325:432-435. www.bmj.com


The purpose of this document is to update the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics “Statement on Sources of Funding”, which was first posted in 2002 as a response to the call for greater transparency about funding of research institutions by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest.


Risks to objectivity, impartiality and independence

Numerous national and international research projects, clinical trials, university chairs and programs are supported by private industry, gifts, and endowments, including those in bioethics. Many government research grants require university researchers to obtain matching private sector funds.

Some sources of funding have prompted concerns about conflicts of interest and threats to academic freedom and integrity, particularly with respect to “partnership” arrangements and funding from pharmaceutical, biotechnology and chemical industries1. Some observers believe university bioethics programs should refuse all corporate funding to legitimize its role as watchdog of the ethics of scientific and medical research. Others believe bioethics will have greater impact in improving research ethics and patient care by working with and disseminating knowledge among all stakeholders2.

The JCB believes improvements are best achieved by working with all stakeholders. However, cognizant of threats to academic freedom and professional integrity, it has instituted a policy of full financial disclosure. JCB applauds the recommendations for centres of bioethics made by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest3.



The JCB promotes a diverse, international and interdisciplinary approach to bioethics education, research, practice.. The larger share of funds (56%) come from Canadian and U.S. research funding agencies to support innovative, internationally recognized programs in priority setting, pandemic responsiveness ,global health ethics, public health ethics, research ethics and clinical care. The second largest share (42%) comes from University of Toronto and health sector partners. The private sector share is 2% which comes from individuals and foundations.

JCB operations are managed by the JCB Secretariat under the direction of the JCB Director (Dr. Ross Upshur) and overseen by an Executive Committee comprised of a representative group of academic deans from the University of Toronto and CEOs of health sector partners . An Advisory Council, consisting of all CEOs (or their designates) of health sector partners and deans (or their designates) of relevant university faculties, meets annually to provide advice to the Executive Committee and the JCB Director. The Executive Committee and the Advisory Council are chaired by Dr. Catherine Whiteside, Vice Provost, Relations with Health Care Institutions and Dean of Medicine. [LINK TO GOVERNANCE DOCUMENT HERE] A Strategic Forum, consisting of academic representatives of all 9 affiliated academic units, ethicists of health sector partners, and other university affiliates (e.g., Centre for Ethics at the University of Toronto), meets quarterly with the Management Team of the JCB Secretariat to address strategic issues related to achieving the JCB’s mission and goals. The JCB abides by the financial and academic rules and regulations of the university (See “University Policies on Funding, Conflicts of Interest, and Ethical Research” below.), which are outlined below.

Of the 141 JCB members, about 25 are full-time ethicists employed by the 13 health sector partners of the JCB Secretariat. The remaining members are committed to ethics practice in their professional work and/or scholarly activities. Some members receive research and travel grants through the JCB and other university departments; some accept consulting fees from public and private sector organizations.