Universiteit Leiden

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Institute of Biology Leiden


The Institute of Biology Leiden (IBL) is an internationally oriented institute for research and education in biology. We are part of the Faculty of Science at Leiden University.

Our aim is to perform top quality innovative fundamental and strategic research that will lead to scientific progress, contribute to solutions for societal challenges, and generate industrial opportunities, reflected in our general theme ‘Harnessing Biodiversity for Health’.

The Institute is organised in three multidisciplinary clusters: Animal Sciences, Plant Sciences and Microbial Sciences. Our research within these clusters covers disciplines like molecular biology and genetics, cell biology, developmental biology, physiology, immunobiology, evolutionary biology, behavioural biology, microbiology, biotechnology, plant ecology. Our research focusses on four research themes: Bioactive Molecules, Development & Disease, Evolution & Biodiversity and Host-Microbe Interactions. Our BSc and MSc teaching programmes are closely linked to on-going research projects and allow students to fully exploit our scientific strengths.

The IBL represents the core of modern biological research at Leiden and we interact closely with the other life science Partner Institutes in the faculty: the Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC), the Leiden Advanced Centre for Drug Research (LACDR) and the Institute for Environmental Sciences (CML). We also collaborate with the Leiden based National Centre for Biodiversity (NCB-Naturalis), Hortus Botanicus Leiden and the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC). We distinguish ourselves by using a selection of model organisms and attention to evolutionary processes and environmental stressors.

The IBL provides an ideal environment for research fellows, and students that are interested in BSc- or MSc-programmes in biology. The BSc-programme concerns a solid three-year education in Biology, continuously upgraded to the modern standards of today, covering all essential disciplines from cell biology and genetics to ecology and evolution. There are four major MSc-programmes: Biodiversity and Sustainability, Evolutionary Biology, From Cells to Organisms and Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology. The IBL is ready to provide you the opportunity to get a top education and to provide the challenge to make a career in Biology through Leiden University (Visit the Graduate school website). International students interested in more information can also contact Student and Educational Affairs.

History of Biology in Leiden

Biology at Leiden University has an uninterrupted history of research for 425 years. Soon after the foundation of the University in 1575, Carolus Clusius was appointed at Leiden to teach botany and to establish a botanical garden, which still exists in Leiden today. The famous zoologist Cornelis Jacob van der Klaauw (1893-1972) also spent most of his active career in Leiden and became co-founder of the Royal Museum of the History of Natural and Exact Sciences in 1928, which is now better known as the Boerhaave Museum. Niko Tinbergen, one of the founders of the study of animal behaviour and as such Nobel Prize recipient in 1973, also began his career at Leiden with his famous experiments on sticklebacks and herring gulls. While the different biology groups were scattered over Leiden for a long time, the Institute became united in July 2009 with state-of-the-art facilities for research and teaching in the completely refurbished Sylvius Laboratory.

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