The Institute was established in 1935 as the first non official centre in India for biomedical research and was included within the aegis of CSIR in 1956. CSIR-IICB today is engaged in research on diseases of national importance and biological problems of global interest, employing sophisticated state-of-the-art technology in keeping with the rapid and unprecedented momentum that life science research has gained globally over the last 50 years. The scientific staff has expertise in a variety of areas including chemistry, biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, neurobiology and immunology which promotes productive interdisciplinary interaction.

CSIR-IICB is one of the major laboratories in India which initiated, right from its inception, multidisciplinary concerted efforts for conducting basic research on infectious diseases, specifically leishmaniasis and cholera, along with the development of technologies for the diagnosis, immunoprophylaxis, and chemotherapy of the diseases.