Welcome to the Website of the VUB’s Legal & Ethics Office (LEO). The VUB is committed to the principle of free research in support of the progress of humanity: LEO contributes to realising this principle by providing support and training so researchers can carry out their activities in an ethical-scientific framework. VUB researchers are expected to respect the ethical practices of their own disciplines, the fundamental ethical principles and norms set out in institutional and (inter)national codes, and the standards of research integrity.

The VUB endorses the European Charter for Researchers, and applies the Charter’s principles in its policies and governance. More details on the VUB’s principles and policies for research ethics and integrity can be found in the VUB Charter for the Researcher.

The Legal and Ethics Office is part of the VUB’s Research and Data Management Department. This website provides information about the services the Legal and Ethics Office provides.
VUB researchers can find more information via the VUB intranet for researchers.


+32 2 629 21 39

LEGAL COUNSEL Legal & Ethics Office

+32 2 629 38 08

John Pearson

+32 2 629 21 49


Intranet for VUB researchers

Legal Counsel Legal & Ethics Office
Klara Swalus

Phone number
+32 2 629 22 25


Research Integrity

The VUB strives to provide an optimal research environment. This implies that researchers are aware of and respect the standards of research integrity, and that they follow good research practices. Respect for research integrity and good research practices is essential both for the quality of research, and for the positive contribution of research to society.

The VUB endorses and implements the Research Integrity principles set out in key documents, such as the ALLEA European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity
The VUB works with the Flemish Committee for Research Integrity and the Flemish Interuniversity Council to develop and implement policies regarding research integrity and good research practices.
More details on the VUB’s principles and policies for research ethics and integrity can be found in the VUB Charter for the Researcher

The VUB Legal and Ethics Office provides several services to support researchers with research integrity and good research practices:

  • A contact point for advice regarding research integrity and good research practices.
  • A reporting service (meldpunt/hotline) for reporting allegations of research misconduct.
  • A university Commission for Research Integrity, which is responsible for processing allegations of misconduct.
  • Training regarding research integrity and good research practices for researchers at all levels. Training is available both online and face to face.


Intranet voor VUB-Researchers


Report a violation

Learn more

VUB Charter for the Researcher

Go to

Ethics and Research

Reflection about the ethics of research and its impacts on participants, the environment and on society is in the first place the responsibility of researchers themselves. The VUB supports researchers in such reflection by raising awareness of ethical issues and how to address them. It also provides services to ensure researchers meet their ethical obligations, including obtaining the necessary authorisations for their research.

The Legal and Ethics Office organises several ethical committees. The main role of the committees is to provide ethical authorisation for projects when this is legally required, when it is required by research funders, or when it is required by academic journals or publishers. The committees also provide advice to researchers about dealing with other ethical aspects of their projects. In addition to the committees, the VUB has policy officers who provide support, advice and training.

Ethics Committee for Animal Experiments

Go to page

Committee for Medical Ethics

Go to page

Ethics Committee for Human Sciences

Go to page

Ethics Committee Dual Use

Go to page

Contact Point Access and Benefit Sharing

Go to page

Contact Point Ethics and International Co-operation

Go to page

The VUB offers dedicated support in the following thematic areas:

  • Medical Ethics: The VUB has a Committee for Medical Ethics, organised with the Brussels University Hospital. The Brussels University Hospital has a team that offers training and support for medical ethics for VUB researchers.
  • Social Sciences and Humanities: The VUB organises an Ethical Committee for Social Sciences and Humanities. The committee provides ethical approvals for research involving human participants where such research is not covered by the Committee for Medical Ethics.
  • Animal Experiments: The Ethical Committee for Animal Experiments evaluates and approves experiments with animals, specifies criteria for the ethical use of animals in research, and provides advice and oversight of VUB laboratories in which animal experiments take place.
  • Dual Use, Military Research and Misuse (ECDMM): This committee provides ethical authorisation and general support for research involving dual technologies (technologies with both civilian and military applications), military research, and research with potential for misuse.
  • Data Protection: The VUB Data Protection Officer is responsible for ensuring that VUB researchers use personal data responsibly, and in compliance with university policies and national and international law.
  • Access and Benefit Sharing: Support for Access and Benefit Sharing includes helping researchers comply with international law regarding the use of genetic materials and related traditional knowledge (the Nagoya Protocol). It also includes support for researchers working in or with resource-poor countries.
  • Ethics and International Co-operation: International co-operation: Support with assessing the human rights and ethical impacts of international co-operation; support with avoiding ‘ethics dumping’; support with obtaining relevant import and export licences for goods subject to controls.

Researchers can also contact the Legal and Ethics Office for help with other ethical aspects of their research.

Intranet for VUB-researchers


Legal Support for Researchers

The legal service of the VUB Legal and Ethics Office (LEO) consists of three legal advisors who provide legal support for the Research and Data Management Department.

This support consists in reviewing, revising and drafting all calls for proposals relating to basic research that researchers present to the University Rector for signature. The support is intended to protect the interests of the VUB, and to ensure that all engagements the University enters into are compliant with applicable external and internal regulations.

The service also carries out negotiation of more complex contracts.

All contracts and related materials must be submitted for legal checks and administrative processing in a timely manner via legalRD@vub.be. A reasonable amount of time for processing should be taken into account depending on the type of documents, the number of parties involved, and the availability of the Rector.

Calls for proposals and simple standard contracts, for example, should be submitted for signature at least 7 days before the deadline. More complex documents involving several parties with whom ad hoc arrangements must be made may have to be submitted several months before the date of signature.

The same support is also offered for contracts for domestic and international joint-PhD agreements. For joint PhDs, the e-mails need to be sent to jointphd@vub.be at least one year before the deposition. Information about the conditions and procedures to be followed when concluding joint PhD agreements involving the VUB can be found at https://student.vub.be/en/phd/joint-phd#procedures.

Finally, the LEO legal service also continually revises and reviews the VUB regulations that are relevant to the Research and Data Management Department, and deals with internal appeals against decisions about disputes, as described in the VUB’s regulations.

You may contact the legal advisors for help with legal and regulatory questions in relation to the areas described above, and in relation to any other legal issues that are relevant for the VUB Research and Data Management Department.

Intranet for VUB-researchers


Training & Events

The Legal and Ethics Office organises a range of training, events and activities to make researchers aware of ethics and research integrity, and enable them to apply best practices in their research. VUB researchers are expected to participate in relevant training as part of their continuous career development. LEO contributes to organising the following activities and training:

  • Face to face training, including training as part of researchers’ introduction to the VUB community
  • Online training on specific ethics issues
  • The annual  Ethics Week that offers an opportunity for the whole VUB community to participate in debates about ethics
  • Training and information sessions on ethics issues in specific research fields at the request of researchers or research leaders
  • Standalone sessions with internal or external experts on particular issues



  • Klara Swalus

    Jurist Legal & Ethics Office
    Jurist Researcher Training and Development Office
    T +32 (0) 2 629  22 25
    Email: klara.Swalus@vub.be

  • Petra Courjaret
    Legal Counsel Legal & Ethics Office
    Legal Counsel Researcher Training and Development Office
    T +32 (0) 2 629 38 08
    Email: petra.courjaret@vub.be
  • Wessel Damen
    Data Protection Officer
    T +32 (0) 2 629 10 99
    Email: wessel.damen@vub.be
  • Margaux Capieau
    Research Ethics Advisor
    T +32 (0) 2 629 21 39
    Email: margaux.capieau@vub.be
  • dr. John Pearson
    Research Ethics & Integrity Advisor
    T +32 (0) 2 629 21 49
    Email: john.pearson@vub.be