Population Council

The Population Council is an international, nonprofit, non-governmental organization based in New York City. It is an organization with strong roots in eugenics.

It runs its Center for Biomedical Research (CBR) out of Rockefeller University in New York.1)



The Population Council was established in 1952 by John D. Rockefeller III in order to channel his interest in global population growth, family planning, and the health of developing nations.2) Spurred by his experience as a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, which was beginning to work on population from the standpoint of food production, Rockefeller established the Council to address the more controversial fields of human fertility and contraceptive research.

In 1955, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund gave almost half a million dollars for general support to help the Council establish its footing. It continued to make substantial grants through the 1970s for activities including fellowship programs, family planning studies, and international conferences.

Early activities

In its 1957 Annual Report, the council explains that “the Council is increasingly in a position to contribute to the understanding and so, perhaps, to the solution of problems of world population growth and change.”3) The Ford Foundation and the Markle Foundation both provided substantial grants, the former to be spent over the course of five years and the latter to benefit the Council's medical division. Following an earlier grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and bolstered by additional funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Council moved ahead with construction of an enlarged laboratory space at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. Along with several other donors, the Council provided a “substantial gift” to the National Committee on Maternal Health to evaluate the effectiveness, acceptability, safety and cost of various methods and materials of fertility control.

The Council provided grants in 1957 to a number of institutions such as the University of Washington, Uppsala University and Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology (studying the physiology of the oviduct and of fertilization); the University of Chicago, University of Washington, and the Weizmann Institute in Israel (studying the early development of the embryo); the University of Reading in England (studying the physical and chemical properties of cervical mucus); Hamburg University in Germany, Keio University in Japan, the University of California, and University of Illinois (studying hypophysical-gonadal interrelations); McGill University in Canada, University of Chicago, University of Buenos Aires and the University of Copenhagen's Connective Tissue Research Laboratory (researching the histology and histochemistry of the gonads and associated ducts); the Carnegie Institution of Washington, San Marcos University in Peru, and the University of Innsbruck in Austria (studying factors influencing gonadal function); and the Planned Parenthood Association of Los Angeles, University of Buenos Aires, and the University of Oregon (studying the effects of steroid compounds on reproductive functions).

Additional grants were authorized to Boston University, the Demographic Teaching and Research Centre in India, Genetics Society of America, Dr. John Durand, International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, London School of Economics and Political Science Population Investigation Committee, Long Island Biological Association, Medical Research Foundation of Oregon, National Taiwan University, Population Reference Bureau, the United Nations and the University of Virginia.

Modern activities



The Population Council has a history of funding from Bayer, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, KPMG, the Markle Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).5) 6)


The Center for Biomedical Research. (2022). Population Council. https://www.popcouncil.org/cbr
The Population Council. (2022). Rockefeller Brothers Fund. https://archive.ph/Ujl0L
Osborn, F. (1957). Annual Report 1957. The Population Council. https://web.archive.org/web/20220501133413/http://library.ucsd.edu/dc/object/bb5974338p/_1.pdf
Summary report of the measuring and monitoring quality of care meeting. (2015). The Population Council. https://web.archive.org/web/20200803175946/https://www.popcouncil.org/uploads/pdfs/2015RH_MeasuringMonitoringQOC.pdf
Population Council Hosts Second Annual Ideas with Impact Awards. (2015, October 13). Population Council. https://archive.ph/9FNqC
Population Council, Inc. (2020, February). Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. https://archive.ph/byLak
Horvath, A. (2015, January 20). Frederick Osborn: “birth control and abortion are turning out to be great eugenic advances.” Eugenics and Other Evils. https://archive.ph/09Uwu