About IARC

IARC Welcome Pack


In 1963, 13 prominent French public figures transmitted to General de Gaulle, then President of France, a request addressed to the French government and to the governments of the largest powers to “do everything they can to reach a mobilization against one of the worst plagues to afflict humanity: cancer”. General de Gaulle entrusted his health minister, Monsieur Marcellin, with taking every initiative towards reaching this goal. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) was therefore formally established in May 1965, through a resolution of the 18th World Health Assembly, as an extension of the World Health Organization (WHO), after a French initiative. On 15 September 1965, the five founding members (the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the USA) formally accepted its statute, which is summarized as follows: “The objective of IARC shall be to promote international collaboration in cancer research. The Agency shall serve as a means through which Participating States and WHO, in liaison with the Union for International Cancer Control and other interested international organizations, may cooperate in the stimulation and support of all phases of research related to the problem of cancer.” IARC’s headquarters building was provided by its host country and is located in Lyon, France.

Today, IARC’s membership has grown to 24 countries (the five founding states plus Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, India, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey).


IARC follows the general governing rules of the United Nations family. It is, however, governed by its own governing bodies, the IARC Governing Council and the IARC Scientific Council.

Governing Council

IARC’s general policy is directed by a Governing Council, composed of the Representatives of the Participating States and the Director-General of WHO. Its research programme is regularly reviewed by the Scientific Council. The Governing Council elects IARC’s Director, who normally serves for a 5-year term. The Council elected Dr Christopher Wild in May 2008, to serve for a 5-year term; he took office on 1 January 2009. Dr Wild was re-elected in May 2013 for a second 5-year term.

The IARC Governing Council meets every year in ordinary session during the week prior to the World Health Assembly.

Scientific Council

The Scientific Council consists of highly qualified scientists from institutions of the Participating States, who are appointed for 4-year terms by the Governing Council. The main purpose of the Scientific Council is to make periodic evaluations of IARC’s activities, to make recommendations on the programme of permanent activities, and to prepare special projects to be submitted to the Governing Council.

The IARC Scientific Council meets every year in ordinary session in late January/early February.


The Secretariat is the administrative and technical organ of the Agency. It consists of the Director and the technical and administrative staff. The Director of IARC is elected by, and reports to, the Governing Council. The Director is responsible for the development and implementation of the scientific programme and oversees the day-to-day operation of the Agency.

IARC membership: http://www.iarc.fr/en/about/membership.php