The IBMM is 20 years old!

January 30th 2020

Candice Leblanc

In October of 1999, the Institute for Molecular Biology and Medicine (IBMM) was the very first structure to settle in what was not yet the BioPark. Twenty years later, the operation is a success! Let’s take a look back at milestones in the IBMM’s history.

Until the late 1990s, ULB’s laboratories were distributed across multiple sites: the Solbosch and Erasme campuses in Brussels, and sites in Nivelles and Rhode-Saint-Genèse. In 1993, the University’s Governing Body decided to gather them all in a single place: Gosselies. This took many researchers by surprise, and a few were apprehensive…


Benefits of a presence in Wallonia

Authorities in Wallonia were looking to invest more in research and development, and researchers were very pleased with this support; still, they feared efforts would be focused on applied research projects, in order to boost job creation.

As it turns out twenty years later, these concerns were unfounded. Researchers certainly do give more thought to potential industrial applications, but funding programmes such as WELBIO have always placed significant emphasis on fundamental research. Thus, two visions that could have been in opposition to each other have instead converged.


Newcomers welcome!

The IBMM’s laboratories(1) initially benefited from their newfound proximity to one another. Later on, more organizations settled in the BioPark, creating new synergies or reinforcing existing ones.

  • The arrival of the IMI, in 2005, increased research staff and brought the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Sciences closer together.
  • In 2009, a new training centre, ULB HeLSci, enabled the creation of a new structure of training modules that was then expanded to ULB as a whole.
  • The establishment of the CMMI in the building next door to the IBMM in 2011 has greatly increased the Institute’s research potential in the field of imaging.
  • And with every new spin-off and company at the BioPark come new collaboration opportunities for the IBMM.


Looking to the future

In the coming years, the IBMM is planning on reinforcing its strategic position. In terms of teaching, the Institute already hosts practical classes for the Bachelor’s in Life Sciences organized in Charleroi, as well as several training modules. There is now talk of also hosting a Master’s programme in Charleroi; if this happens, the IBMM will be at the top of the list of potential locations.

The (ongoing) recruitment of two new research professors will also provide an opportunity to restructure the IBMM’s various fields of activity into large research hubs. Stay tuned!



  1. The IBMM currently has 13 research teams.



We would like to thank Bruno André, head of IBMM’s molecular physiology laboratory, for his contribution to this article.