The Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology was founded on June 1st, 1990. The first Director of the Institute was professor Ain Heinaru.
The institute included the following sections:
• UT department of genetics and cytology (Head Ain Heinaru)
• plasmid biology laboratory (Ain Heinaru), gene expression laboratory (Andres Metspalu) and oncogenesis laboratory (Mart Ustav) of the faculty’s molecular genetics’ sector (Head professor Artur Lind)
• the institute had close collaboration with the Estonian Biocentre and molecular genetics laboratory of the National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics.
By the year 1994 the institute included 8 chairs, 6 of them based on the initial structural units.
The professors had different backgrounds: 2 biologists, 3 doctors, 2 chemists and 1 physicist.
In 2004 the Chair of Bioinformatics was launched and in 2008 the Chair of Developmental Biology joined the institute. In years 1994-2006 the Lectorate of Didactics of Natural Sciences belonged to the structure of the institute.
On the basis of the institute, several new structural units have been formed in the university, such as the Institute of Technology and the Estonian Genome Bank.
A number of technology-oriented companies have sprung up from the institute (e.g. Quattromed, Solis BioDyne, etc.), and the institute had an important contribution to the establishment of Tartu Biotechnology Park.
In addition to Ain Heinaru, the directors of the institute have been professors:
Since 2021 the director of the institute is professor Maia Kivisaar.
On the cover photo there are the directors of the institute celebrating the 30th jubilee of the institute with a scientific conference on Oct 23, 2020 (photo: Andres Tennus, University of Tartu; missing from the photo: Mart Ustav)
In 2010, the institute celebrated its 20th anniversary with a unique exhibition about the history of the institute, a yearbook and a conference. The exhibition was compiled by the first director of the institute, Professor Ain Heinaru, with the help from UT library (Ivika Pall, Eve Valper) and the museum.
The following PDF files (in Estonian) are the materials of the exhibition.
The copyright of the files belongs to the University of Tartu Library (additional information: Ivika Pall, firstname.lastname@example.org).
The premises of the institute are located in three interesting and historical buildings at Riia Street, Tartu. In the gallery down below there are photos taken by Sulev Kuuse and Jüri Parik about the opening of the institute (1993), opening of the Citrina building (December 1997) and about the new Omicum building, construction and opening (September 2010, April 2012).