The International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw (IIMCB), established in 1999, is one of the most modern country’s research institutes in its field in Poland holding the A+ category resulting from the parametric evaluation of research entities in Poland by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. It was created with the support of the Polish Government, Polish Academy of Sciences (PAS) and UNESCO, based on a separate parliamentary bill.
IIMCB is directly subordinate to the President of the Polish Academy of Sciences, who supervises the organization and activities of the Institute. The President of PAS nominates members of International Advisory Board and the Institute’s Director. The IIMCB uses a building loaned to it by the PAS. It also played a crucial role as a party to the agreement with the Max Planck Society which made it possible to organize joint laboratories.
The main goals of IIMCB are: to carry out high-quality research in molecular biomedicine, to create the best possible conditions for ambitious, motivated group leaders and their staff, to implement modern biotechnology, as well as to teach and popularize molecular biology and medicine. Eleven research groups comprise the present structure of IIMCB:
- Laboratory of Structural Biology (Bochtler)
- Laboratory of Bioinformatics and Protein Engineering (Bujnicki)
- Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology (Jaworski)
- Laboratory of Neurodegeneration (Kuźnicki)
- Laboratory of Cell Biology (Miączyńska)
- Laboratory of Iron Homeostasis (Mleczko-Sanecka)
- Laboratory of Protein Structure (Nowotny)
- Laboratory of Protein Metabolism in Development and Aging (Pokrzywa)
- Laboratory of Zebrafish Developmental Genomics (Winata)
- Laboratory of RNA Biology (Dziembowski)
- Laboratory of Biomolecular Interactions and Transport - Brezovsky
Research topics at IIMCB cover the wide area of structural biology, bioinformatics, computer modeling, molecular and cell biology, neurobiology, cancer biology, and developmental genomics (zebrafish model). Involvement of the International Advisory Board, the rules of recruitment of all faculty members through international competition and lack of tenure employment make it unique among Polish research institutions. The principles of organization of the Institute differ from other research institutes in the country: an important body of the Institute is the IAB, 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 IAB. There are no permanent scientific positions at the Institute, however, a successful lab leader after seven years can be promoted to a senior position and fall into a rolling-tenure mechanism of employment. According to the IIMCB bylaws, the lab leader position constitutes an equivalent of a professorial position of other Polish research institutes.
Currently, IIMCB employs 78 researchers, and 40 PhD students. The Institute is partly financed from the state budget (statutory subvention from Ministry of Science and Higher Education, budgetary subvention from Polish Academy of Sciences) and through numerous grants founded from foreign and domestic sources such as: EU 7. Framework Program including European Research Council, EU Structural Funds, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Wellcome Trust, Polish Swiss Research Programme, Visegrad Fund, Ministry of Science and Higher Education, National Science Centre, National Centre for Research and Development, Foundation for Polish Science, etc.
The Institute is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and has excellent core facilities and supportive administration, including Scientific Coordination Unit and Grants Office. IIMCB actively collaborates with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies such as Adamed, OncoArendi, A&A Biotechnology to develop new therapies in neurology, oncology and biotechnological products. The Institute’s Technology Transfer Unit Biotech-IP supported scientists in their work on applicable R&D projects and IP protection. BioTech-IP evolved gradually, and a need arose to transfer the most advanced projects to an external entity, thus allowing further development in the economic environment. Patent applications and patents were transferred to Biotech Innovations Ltd which is funded by IIMCB. It is committed to turning scientific progress into marketable products and technologies and returning income to the inventors and IIMCB to support further research.
IIMCB Structural Biology Center “PRO Biostructures” has been created as a professional partner responsible for X-ray crystallography. The team offers extensive experience in supporting drug discovery projects and other scientific endeavors with both the biotech/pharmaceutical industry and academia. The lab’s offer contains a complete range of protein crystallography research named „from gene to structure”. Institute actively supports social initiatives serving groups of patients with particular diseases. It fostered two patient support organizations: Polish Association Supporting People with Inflammatory Bowel Disease “J-elita” (since 2005) and Polish Ciliary Dyskinesia Society (since 2011).
The Institute is also involved in various educational programs as well as popularization activities performed by the Centre for Innovative Bioscience Education (BioCEN). The environment of the Institute is international and English is the working language.