The proposal for establishing the State Key Laboratory of Molecular Biology (SLMB) was approved by the State Planning Commission in 1984. After two years preparation, the SLMB passed the Commission’s inspection in 1986 and was officially opened in 1987. Profs. Youshang Zhang, Shizhou Ao, Qishui Li and Youxin Jin served as the director of SLMB respectively from the first term to the forth term. Prof. Lin Li is the current director and Prof. Enduo Wang is the chair of the SLMB Scientific Committee.
The aim of SLMB is to become a top-level and internationally recognized basic research organization in life science research. The mission of SLMB is to serve the nation’s strategic planning in health and population science research and to contribute to the scientific advancement and economic development in our nation. To fulfill our goals, SLMB is focused on the fundamental knowledge related to human diseases and the cutting-edge research systems by supporting the original research and the exploration of new research fields.
The initial research interests of SLMB were focused on the functions and structures of bio-molecules, molecular genetics and membrane biology. Following the rapid development in life science research, SLMB re-oriented its major research direction. At present, most scientists in SLMB are in the field of genetic functions and their regulation. They are grouped in two major themes: protein function and epigenetic regulation. The major research areas are: 1) gene expression regulation, 2) genetic regulation and function, 3) dynamic regulation of genes and their expression, 4) molecular mechanisms of physiological and pathological activities in cells and in living organisms, and 5) disease pathology for therapeutic targets and lead compounds.
The establishment of the Grant for State Key Laboratory has provided a great leverage for SLMB to re-orient its research organization and projects. Accordingly, SLMB has initiated an “individual-cluster-group array” re-organization. In this new initiative, individual researchers have their own research interests and specific research areas. Several researchers with similar research interests will from a cluster and cooperate in a common research field. And people in different clusters can also cooperate in a grouped research project. By this structure, we are trying to encourage more grouped research projects that are based on the individual initiatives and cooperation. Currently, there are seven research groups, studying the research topics in: dis-regulation mechanism of epididymis; chromatin modification and its regulation on translation; quality control of mRNA processing to protein synthesis; molecular mechanism of protein folding, dynamic structure and function; protein-protein interaction networks in cell-fate determination; regulation of lipid metabolism and its related diseases; and molecular mechanism of tumorigenesis and tumor progression.
In the past 20 years, SLMB has undertaken hundreds of national projects and obtained many scientific achievements. From the 9th Five-Year Plan period till now, the laboratory has been a prominent player in research fields such as RNA, epigenetics, protein science and lipid metabolism and has received supports from 973 programs and National Natural Science Foundation of China (NNSFC). Many research works have been published on high-impact journals such as Science, Cell, Cell Metab, Nat Genet, EMBO J, JCB, PNAS, etc. Throughout these years, the laboratory has received various awards, including National Natural Sciences Achievement Award, National Award for Science and Technology Progress, and awards from Provincial Government for its excellence in research.
Talent is the foundation of the laboratory and also is the future of the laboratory. SLMB is a platform for researchers to development themselves and is also a platform for the education of young researchers. Over the years, SLMB has built up a high quality research team, which has 4 academicians of the CAS, 9 receivers of the Outstanding Youth Program of the NNSFC, 13 PIs of the One Hundred Talent Program of the CAS, 5 Chief Scientists of 973 Programs, 1 Academic Leader of Excellent Innovative founded by NNSFC.
SLMB has forged a long-standing and productive collaboration with universities and research institutions from many countries including the United States, Germany, Japan, South Korea, etc. The laboratory also has numerous collaborations with various domestic institutions and sets up open projects to help scientists from under-developed region. Many collaborations and cooperative research projects have been established through these exchanges. Since its establishment, SLMB has steadily improved its reputation as a quality research laboratory both in China and abroad. In the evaluation by an international expert panel organized by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in December 2008, 16 scientists from the laboratory were evaluated and the overall quality of these scientists and their research works were highly praised by the experts in the panel.
Since establishment, SLMB has kept a good relation with its host institute [Shanghai Institutes of Biochemistry (up to 2000) and IBCB, Shanghai Institutes of Biological Sciences, CAS (2000-present)]. With mutual supports and respects, SLMB along with its host institute will continue to follow the national strategic development planning, to enhance the scientific ability for creativity and innovation, and to make greater contributions to the national scientific progress.