The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is the outcome of an initiative by a group of leading French public figures, who succeeded in persuading President de Gaulle to adopt a project to lighten humanity’s ever-growing burden of cancer. The project rapidly gained momentum, and IARC was created on 20 May 1965, by a resolution of the World Health Assembly, as the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization. The Agency’s headquarters building was provided by its host in Lyon, France.
IARC has its own Governing Council, and in 1965 the first members were the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Today, IARC’s membership has grown to 26 countries.
The first IARC Director was John Higginson (1966-1981), who was followed by Lorenzo Tomatis (1982-1993), Paul Kleihues (1994-2003), Peter Boyle (2004-2008), Christopher Wild (2009-2018), and Elisabete Weiderpass (2019-present).
Over the past five decades, IARC has conducted research worldwide and helped thousands of cancer researchers from developing countries hone their skills through fellowships, courses, and collaborative projects.