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The history of the IMP is a story of determination, focused investments and smart minds forming a stimulating community. This story goes back to the 1980s and relates the IMP to other research institutes and companies that grew around it since then – eventually forming the Vienna BioCenter. Today, the IMP is at the heart of a life science community that draws from the minds of 2650 people.

The pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim (Germany) and the bio-tech company Genentech (US) start negotiations about a joint basic research institute.

The IMP is founded as a joint venture of Boehringer Ingelheim and Genentech under the name of "Institut für Oncogenforschung, Planungs- und Errichtungsgesellschaft m.b.H.".


The molecular biologist Max Birnstiel, professor at the University of Zurich, is appointed scientific director of the IMP. Herwart Ankershofen acts as the the first administrative director.

Recruiting of the first Group Leaders and Senior Scientists and small-scale research activities at the Bender-labs in Vienna's 12th district.

"Research Institute of Molecular Pathology" is officially endorsed as the name of the new research institute.

Refurbishments begin to convert the former radio factory "Hornyphon" into a research facility.

Relocation to the newly renovated building in Dr.-Bohr-Gasse 7, in the 3rd district of Vienna (Landstraße).

The IMP and five institutes of the University of Vienna sign a cooperation agreement; this agreement is seen as the starting point of the “Vienna Biocenter” or VBC.

Nikolaus Zacherl becomes Managing Director Administration and Finance. 

The first IMP graduate students complete their PhDs.

The University of Vienna opens a new research building next door to the IMP for five institutes. This is seen as the starting point of developing the “Campus Vienna BioCenter”.

Boehringer Ingelheim takes over all shares of the IMP.

Start of the International PhD Program. Through this program, PhD students are selected among highly qualified applicants from all over the world and are given the opportunity for training and work in different areas at the forefront of modern biology. Today, the Vienna Biocenter PhD Programme is organised jointly by the IMP, the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL), the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) and the Gregor Mendel Institute (GMI).

Max Perutz opens the joint Vienna BioCenter library named after him: the Max Perutz Library.

Kim Nasmyth, Senior Scientist at the IMP, takes over as Scientific Director of the IMP after Max Birnstiel retires.

The biotech company Intercell is founded as a spin-off by Max Birnstiel and colleagues from the IMP and the University of Vienna.

A collaboration contract is signed between Boehringer Ingelheim and the Austrian Academy of Sciences on developing a new research institute, the first step towards the foundation of the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA).

The "Campus Vienna Biocenter Association" is founded with the IMP as one of its members.

Researchers of the newly founded Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA) start working temporarily in the IMP building.

A Shared-Services Agreement ('IMP-IMBA Research Center') with the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) is signed.

Harald Isemann becomes Managing Director Administration and Finance.

Barry Dickson is appointed as new Scientific Director after Kim Nasmyth accepts the Whitley Chair at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom.

Official opening of the "Austrian Academy of Sciences - Life Sciences Center Vienna" next to the IMP: home to the Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology (GMI), the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) and the expanded core facilities.

The IMP celebrates its 20th Anniversary. The highlight of the anniversary is a scientific conference in the Hofburg Conference Centre with outstanding speakers and personalities from the IMP, both past and present. 

The VBC Summer School is started as a joint programme run by the VBC research institutes.

The day-care center for VBC children opens.

A new VBC-wide scientific core facility with a broad range of new technologies is set up with funding from the City of Vienna and the Ministry of Science. The “VBC Core Facilities” provide valuable support to the research groups of the VBC institutes.

Jan-Michael Peters is appointed new Scientific Director of the IMP and Meinrad Busslinger succeeds him as Deputy Director. Former IMP-director Barry Dickson accepts a call to the Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, USA.

Groundbreaking for the new IMP building.

After less than two years of construction, the IMP moves into its new building at Campus-Vienna-Biocenter 1. The 52 million Euro investment by Boehringer Ingelheim, planned by the architecture firm ATP, forms a new heart for the Vienna BioCenter.

The formal opening ceremony for the new IMP Building on 1 March is attended by dignitaries from politics, science and business including Austria's President Alexander Van der Bellen. The ribbon as represented by a giant DNA double helix is cut by Emanuelle Charpentier.

IMP emeritus director Kim Nasmyth is awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.

IMP alumna Angelika Amon is awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.

The IMP partners with the Max Birnstiel Foundation to endow the International Birnstiel Award for Doctoral Research in Molecular Life Sciences, presented for the first time on 8 November. 

Further Reading

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