The idea of establishing the Institute dates back to late 80's, when the initiative was taken to create in Poland a modern research institute involved in the molecular and cellular research in biomedicine. On the initiative of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) and supported by the State Committee for Scientific Research (KBN), in 1995 an international agreement between the Government of the Republic of Poland and UNESCO was signed establishing the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw (IIMCB). The Institute began its independent scientific activity on 1 January 1999.
Institute organizational objectives are contained in the Parliamentary Bill of 1997, which provides the legal basis of IIMCB functioning. To be in line with internationally accepted trends several distinctive features of IIMCB should be noted. The principles of organization of the Institute also differ from other research institutes in the country: an important body of the Institute is the International Advisory Board, acting as the Scientific Council; the leader of each research team of the Institute is selected in an international competition; group leader’s initial employment is limited to a five-year contract; three years after beginning the research work, progress of research is assessed by the International Advisory Board. Based on IAB’s recommendation professor’s contract may be either terminated or extended. The International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology is directly subordinate to the President of the Polish Academy of Sciences, who supervises the organization and activities of the Institute. The President of PAN nominates members of IAB and the Institute’s Directors.
The Institute is financed in part from the national budget (basic subvention; budgetary subvention via PAN) and in part from other sources (Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Foundation for Polish Science, National Science Center, National Center for Research and Development, Framework Programs of EU, Max Planck Society, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, European Molecular Biology Organisation, National Institutes of Health, Wellcome Trust, European Science Foundation, etc.). About 80% of funds arrive as competitive grant awards received by the group leaders. In the recent evaluation of scientific institutions in Poland IIMCB was ranked first among all institutions in the field of biological sciences.
Currently there are about 140 researchers aboard, including 50 PhD students. IIMCB research topics cover the wide area of cancer biology, neurobiology, protein structural biology, intracellular communication, dendritic tree formation, bioinformatics-computer modeling, enzyme engineering, mitochondrial biogenesis, etc. Since 2001 the first Max-Planck Society/Polish Academy of Sciences, Junior Research Group started its activity at IIMCB which became the first MPS-funded laboratory in Poland ever; since 2006 the mirror copy of such laboratory, funded by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher education, started research activity in Dresden. Among IIMCB graduate students a substantial fraction takes part in several international PhD programs run together with the Utrecht University, Postgraduate School of Molecular Medicine (SMM) and Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics (MPD). Centre for Innovative Bioscience Education hosted at IIMCB is active in reducing the gap between science and society in Poland by conducting educational activities popularizing biology: open lectures, workshops for students and all interested participants as well as courses for biology teachers.
The research equipment of the Institute together with shared resources of neighboring institutes of the whole Ochota campus set the high technical standard of research conducted here. At IIMCB researchers have a chance not only to stand up a scientific challenge but also to taste early independence starting their own first laboratories after eg. a successful postdoctoral training.
IIMCB is located at the Ochota Campus, the largest agglomeration of biomedical academic institutions in this part of Europe. There are several departments of Warsaw University (including Department of Biology) located here, Medical University of Warsaw (including the academic hospital) and five institutes of Polish Academy of Sciences. The latter together with IIMCB form a scientific consortium called Biocentrum Ochota, employing over 1000 scientists, running research in the field of biology, medicine and bioengineering.