On December 3, 1958, to satisfy the needs of the country in terms of social and economic development, the Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences was established from the merger of the Institute of Applied Mycology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Beijing Laboratory of Microbiology, previously led by Professors Dai Fanglan and Fang Xinfang, respectively. This set a new milestone in the research of microbiology in China.
Soon after its foundation, in accordance with the instructions of Mao Zedong and other leaders of the first generation of leaders in China, the institute carried out research and development in fields of industrial microbiology, agricultural microbiology, and later pathogenic microbiology. It established the modern microbiology industry in China. It conducted numerous pioneering studies and made significant achievements. During its development, nine academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and one academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering have worked here in the institute. The older generation of scientists, represented by academicians Dai Fanglan, Deng Shuqun, Yan Xunchu, were founders of mycology and actinomycete taxonomy in China. The older generation of industrial microbiologists, represented by academician Fang Xinfang, made fundamental contributions to the fermentation industry in China. Their work is still highly regarded through out the country.
"Create brilliance from tiny microbes" has become the motto of researchers of the institute for decades. Since its establishment, the institute has made tremendous contributions to solving the energy crisis, ensuring food security, protecting the environment, and supporting bio-industry and other sectors.
During the 1950s, large areas of forest in China were destroyed by diseases and pests. Academician Deng Shuqun set up research in the forests of northeastern China. The deep snowy forest and vast mountains did not prevent Professor Deng from conducting research and exploring scientific solutions. He launched the "forest protection training courses" and trained a large number of professionals through out the country. He is one of the founders of forest conservation in China.
The study of Aspergillus niger maltogenic amylase, led by Academician Fang Xinfang, has helped saving tens of billion tons of grain in China. Today, the technology developed from the study is still being used by some manufacturers.
Early in the 1980s, scientists at the Institute of Microbiology published their work in "Cell", one of the world’s leading scientific journals, which demonstrated that basic microbiological research in China was keeping pace with the forefront of international research. In 1986, the institute independently developed the technology of vitamin C production through a novel two-step microbial fermentation. The IP of the technology was transferred with a patent fee of 5.5 million US dollars to the F. Hoffmann-La Roche company, a world-renowned pharmaceutical company, which set a new record in China for the largest technology export volume at that time.
Recollecting the significant wealth left by the predecessors of the institute, inheriting the tradition of “Commitment, truth, solidarity, and hard work”, the institute entered the new century with confidence and with the aim of satisfying the national strategic needs and working at the forefront of international science. Although the research subjects of the Institute of Microbiology are minute, the contribution the institute has made to social and economic development is enormous!