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Celebrating 60 years of EMBO

EMBO was founded on 12 July 1964 to advance molecular biology in Europe. Today, EMBO is an organization of more than 2,000 leading researchers that promotes excellence in the life sciences in Europe and beyond. EMBO has supported thousands of talented researchers at different stages of their careers, stimulated the exchange of scientific information, advanced scientific publishing and helped build a research environment in which scientists can achieve their best work. 

Browse through a timeline and a collection of posters telling the story of the development of EMBO, its achievements and impact over 60 years. 

Leo Szilard © Corbis. All Rights Reserved

Leo Szilard proposes that Europe’s molecular biologists should attempt to persuade governments to establish an international laboratory for molecular or fundamental biology during the visit to CERN in Geneva, Switzerland

16 September

Molecular biologists discuss the possibility of international cooperation at the Ravello meeting in Italy

12 July
EMBO is registered as a non-profit organization

EMBO acquires official legal status in Geneva, Switzerland, under Swiss Civil Code on July 12 and appoints its first members


Volkswagen Foundation provides a grant of
DM 2,748,000 to fund the EMBO Fellowship Programme

First EMBO Fellowships awarded: 21 short- and nine long-term
More countries join EMBC

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Israel, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom

Greece and Italy ratify the EMBC agreement
Ireland joins the EMBC
4 July
John Kendrew with 'forest of rods' model, used as a basis for building the atomic structure of myoglobin, 1958.
Finland joins the EMBC
Iceland joins the EMBC
3 May
The first EMBO Journal cover

The EMBO Journal is started in 1982 to disseminate research in the life sciences around the world

5 May
Moulds for the original EMBO Gold Medal awarded in 1986

The EMBO Gold Medal acknowledges young scientists for outstanding contributions to the life sciences in Europe.

Hungary joins the EMBC
Turkey joins the EMBC
Czech Republic and Portugal join the EMBC
Cover of the programme of the first EMBO Members' meeting
EMBO lectures and EMBO Members' Meeting established
Slovenia joins the EMBC
Croatia joins the EMBC
Poland joins the EMBC

A new journal is founded to publish both long- and short-format papers that communicate major findings in all areas of molecular-, cell- and developmental-biology.

4 July

Recognizing that the future of research in Europe depends on the quality of its young researchers, EMBO launches the Young Investigator Programme as the only of its kind.

EMBO moves into new building

EMBO moves to its present building on the EMBL campus.

Cutting the birthday cake: Frank Gannon, Marja Makarow, Susan Gasser, Fotis Kafatos (from left to right)
EMBO celebrates its 40th anniversary
14 April

EMBO launches one of the first Open Access journals.

1 June
EMBO Laboratory Management Courses

EMBO starts Laboratory Management Courses to help scientists learn how to run their labs more effectively.

Estonia joins the EMBC
1 December
Installation Grants launched

EMBO starts Installation Grants designed to strengthen science in emerging countries in Europe.

Luxembourg and Slovak Republic join the EMBC
30 January

Naama Barkai of the Weizman Institute of Science received the award for her outstanding contributions to the field of systems biology and the mathematical modelling of biological systems.

9 October

EMBO launches new journal at the interface of molecular biology and clinical research

31 August

Clear Open Science policies on the availability of materials, data and software, data deposition to public databases and data presentation. In addition, EMBO Press implemented initiatives to improve data transparency, reuse and discoverability.

29 August

The first EMBO Meeting is held in Amsterdam. More than 1,300 scientists attend the event. In 2014, a joint anniversary meeting with FEBS will take place in Paris.

13 October

The Government of Singapore signs a cooperation agreement with EMBC, the intergovernmental funding body for EMBO, allowing scientists from Singapore to participate in EMBO Programmes and activities.

29 November

The National Science Council of Taiwan signs a cooperation agreement with EMBC, the intergovernmental funding body for EMBO, allowing Taiwanese scientists to participate in EMBO Programmes and activities.

13 May

The Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) recognizes the need to improve the ways in which the outputs of scholarly research are evaluated. The declaration was developed in 2012 during the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco. It has become a worldwide initiative covering all scholarly disciplines and all key stakeholders including funders, publishers, professional societies, institutions, and researchers.

15 December
EMBO Press launched

EMBO Press - a new publishing platform for The EMBO Journal, EMBO reports, Molecular Systems Biology and EMBO Molecular Medicine that provides opportunities for the future development of the journals is launched

7 May

EMBO has decided to strategically expand the scope of its membership on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. The 106 new members for 2014 include 50 scientists who have made exceptional contributions to these research areas.

7 July
Singapore becomes first EMBC Associate Member State
2 February

The Government of the Republic of India, EMBO and its intergovernmental funding body, the EMBC, have signed a Cooperation Agreement to strengthen scientific interaction and collaborative research between India and Europe.

21 March
Malta joins the EMBC
13 June
Lithuania joins the EMBC
8 July

A platform for researchers and publishers to make their papers discoverable based on their data content

12 February
ASCB | EMBO Meeting 2017 logo

ASCB and EMBO start holding a joint annual meeting. It was renamed Cell Bio in 2020.

EMBO signs cooperation agreement with Chile
Montenegro joins the EMBC
3 April

EMBO Press, Rockefeller University Press and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press jointly launch the open access journal

3 November

To connect young research group leaders across the world, EMBO launches the Global Investigator Network.

19 December

The platform for the peer review of preprints that allows seamless transfer to a growing number of affiliate journals

19 October

EMBO adds activities to its programmes and launches new funding schemes for researchers in or going to one of nine countries

31 July
EMBO and the Japan Science and Technology Agency sign a memorandum of cooperation
17 November
Latvia joins the EMBC
1 January

From 2024 on, all papers published in The EMBO Journal and EMBO Reports and the source data in all EMBO Press journals will be freely accessible with CC-BY licence

15 January

It recognizes new and significant contributions to the development of sustainable wet and dry labs with a focus on their environmental impact.