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The International Agency for Research on Cancer was established in May, 1965, through a resolution of the XVIIIth World Health Assembly, as an extension of the World Health Organization, after a French initiative. As a WHO Agency, IARC follows the general governing rules of the UN family. It is governed by its own Governing bodies, however, the IARC Governing Council (GC) and the IARC Scientific Council (SC).

Governing Council

IARC’s general policy is directed by a Governing Council, composed of the Representatives of Participating States and of the Director-General of the World Health Organization. Its research programme is regularly reviewed by a Scientific Council. The Governing Council elects IARC’s Director, who normally serves for a five-year term. The Council elected Dr Christopher Wild in May, 2013, to serve for a second five-year term as from January 1, 2014.

In May 2018, The Governing Council elected Dr Elisabete Weiderpass (Brazil) as Director of the Agency, for a five-year term. She will take office on 1 January 2019.


The Governing Council of the International Agency for Research on Cancer meets every year in ordinary session the week prior to the WHO World Health Assembly. Professor Mads Melbye (Denmark) will chair the next regular session of the Council, in May 2019.

Scientific Council

The Scientific Council consists of highly qualified scientists, selected on the basis of their technical competence in cancer research and allied fields. Members of the Scientific Council are appointed as experts and not as representatives of Participating States. When a vacancy arises on the Scientific Council, the Participating State that nominated the departing member may nominate up to two experts to replace that member. Scientific Council members are appointed for four-year terms by the Governing Council. The purpose of this Council is, among other things, to make periodical 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 Scientific Council of the International Agency for Research on Cancer meets every year in ordinary session in late January-early February. It last met on 31 January-2 February 2018 (Chairperson, Professor Giske Ursin [Norway]), and the next session is scheduled for 30 January-1 February 2019 (Chairperson, Professor Giske Ursin [Norway]).


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.

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