In early 2009, to mark the 125th anniversary of the Boehringer Ingelheim Company in 2010, the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation started an extraordinary initiative to strengthen cutting-edge research at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz. The Foundation, whose purpose is the long-term promotion of biological, chemical, medical and pharmaceutical sciences, decided to donate 100 million Euros for the operation of a new Center of Excellence for Life Sciences. This constitutes one of the largest private donations for a research facility at a German university.

The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate actively contributed to this initiative by committing 45.5 million Euros to the construction of a state-of-the-art research building, which offers outstanding working conditions for leading scientists from all over the world. Construction started in December 2009 and the first part of the building was inaugurated in March 2011

In May 2010, developmental biologist Prof. Dr. Christof Niehrs was appointed as the institute’s founding director, now officially named Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB). Christof Niehrs was head of the Department of Molecular Embryology at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg. For his outstanding research achievements he was awarded numerous prizes and distinctions, including the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and recently an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC).