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History|Institute of Cellular and Organismic Biology, Academia Sinica

About ICOB
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Though it has only held its current name since 2005, the Institute of Cellular and Organismic Biology (ICOB) is one of the oldest institutes at Academia Sinica. The Institute was originally founded in Nanjing as the Natural History Museum of Academia Sinica (est. 1929). Then, in 1934, it was renamed as the Institute of Botany and Zoology. Ten years later in 1944, the Institutes of Botany and Zoology were separated. In 1949, Academia Sinica moved to Taiwan with the central government, and in 1959, the Preparatory Office for the Institute of Zoology was established. After years of hard work by Preparatory Directors Hsu-Mu Liang and Jong-Ching Su, the Institute of Zoology was formally established in Taipei on Feb 1, 1970, with Dr. Jong-Ching Su serving as the first Director.

Subsequently, Directors Kun-Hsiung Chang and Yien-Shing Chow vigorously expanded the Institute’s research programs into diverse fields. Director Yien-Shing Chow obtained funding for a new building from Academia Sinica, and the Deputy Director at the time, Prof. Jen-Leih Wu, led his colleagues in the design and supervision of the building, which was completed and opened in 1989.

In 1990, Director Jen-Leih Wu defined the institutional focus according to three research groups: the molecular and cellular group, the organismic physiology group, and the ethnic ecology group. In 2002, Director John Yu set up the Stem Cell Laboratories and the ICOB mouse room, which is now the pre-eminent pathogen-free animal facility on campus. In 2003, the Marine Research Station of ICOB was established in Yilan County to house advanced aquatic biology research facilities. Today, the MRS is open to domestic and international research institutions, providing a foundation for new applications of aquatic biology and biotechnology.

In 2010, Director Tao-shih Hsieh defined the integrated research focus of ICOB as ‘the basic mechanisms of cell function and cell-cell interactions that coordinate the growth and development of organisms and their adaptation to the ever-changing environment.’ This direction has been continued by current Director Chi-Hon Lee, who also established the ICOB bioinformatics core. Director Lee places a strong emphasis on the integration of existing research directions and resources in studies on biological topics with broad importance. At present, there are 22 Research Fellows and five Research Scientists in ICOB with specialties in (1) cell dysfunction, (2) ecology, evolution and development, (3) neuroscience and (4) stem cell and regenerative biology.


Affiliation Name Appointment period
Director Chi-Hon Lee 2018-present
Acting Director Han-Chung Wu 2017-2018
Acting Director Pung-Pung Hwang 2016-2017
Director Tao-shih Hsieh 2009-2016
Director John Yu 2002-2009
Director Kwang-Tsao Shao 1996-2002
Director Jen-Leih Wu 1990-1996
Director Yien-Shing Chow 1984-1990
Director Kun-Hsiung Chang 1984-1990
Director Jong-Ching Su 1970-1978
Director(Preparatory Office) Jong-Ching Su 1967-1970
Director(Preparatory Office) Hsu-Mu Liang 1959-1967