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. A neurobiology group is involved in research on the development of the vertebrate brain and also the genesis of human movement disorders. Bioactive substances from natural sources and chemically synthesized new molecules are being explored as potential drugs. Other areas being actively pursued are gastric hyperacidity and ulcer, muscular dystrophy and related disorders, macromolecular structure function analysis, development of targeted drug delivery systems, sperm biology and protein chemistry and enzymology.
The institute has developed an oral vaccine for cholera, herbal products for controlling gastric ulcer, empirical treatment for vitiligo, diagnostic kits for malignancy and hormonal disorders, fungal enzymes of industrial importance, radiopharmaceuticals for evaluation of the functional status of renal and hepatobiliary systems and a device for early detection of Parkinson's disease. Although the strength of CSIR-IICB has always been basic biomedical research, during the last decade emphasis is being given on goal oriented research directed towards commercial exploitability. Efforts are now on to convert the knowledge gained over the years through high quality basic research into wealth.

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