The activities of EMBL Administration started in 1973 when the Agreement establishing the European Molecular Biology Laboratory was signed by the Member States. This agreement was ratified on 1974-07-04.
The EMBL Course and Conference Office (CCO) exists to help deliver the teaching and training mission of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL).
As one of EMBL’s core missions, EMBL delivers advanced training to a variety of audiences. The CCO focuses on delivering a programme of academic conferences and practical training courses and conferences to the international life sciences community.
From 1974 to the early-1980s, EMBL’s training activities (courses, workshops and seminars) was mostly driven by individual staff members. A comprehensive list of these can be found in the EMBL Annual Reports from the period.
From the early-1980s, the delivery of training was consolidated. From 1983, Nelly van der Jagt works part-time on organizing the logistics of courses, a role taken over in 1987 by Maria Ittensohn. In 1989, the position of “Course and Workshop Secretary” is created, and it is filled by Ingeborg Fatscher. Throughout this period and until 1999, the “Course and Workshop Secretariat”, and later the “Courses Secretariat” is, hierarchically, an administrative department.
In 1984, the EMBO-sponsored “Yeast Genetics” course, taught by François Lacroute (Strasbourg) and Albert Hinnen (Basel) is the first course hosted at EMBL Heidelberg that is not run primarily by EMBL staff.
In July 1987, EMBL Council approves plans to build an auditorium and better teaching facilities at EMBL Heidelberg; in December 1988, the EMBL Operon is inaugurated.
In 1999, the “Conferences Office”, becomes part of the EMBL Photography Laboratory.
From 2004, training activities are reorganized at EMBL, and in 2006, the “Course and Conference Office” becomes part of the “External Training” arm of the EMBL International Centre for Advanced Training (EICAT) programme. From 2007 to 2016, Sally Böhm is the Head of Course and Conference Office. Geoffrey Barnett takes over this position.
Prior to 2016, EMBL's communication activities were managed by the Office of Information and Public Affairs (OIPA) and the strategic ones were headed by EMBL Strategy and Analysis.
The first person appointed at EMBL to deal with public relations was hired in 1993 (David States). These activities were later headed by Russ Hodge, Lena Raditsch, Oliver Burlon and Darren Noyes.
Previous to the use of the appellation "Office of the EMBL Director General", this service was delivered by the Secretary to the Director General.
EIROforum was created in 2001 by seven European research organisations: the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) and the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA). EIRO stands for European Intergovernmental Research Organisation.
Following initial discussions 2000 and 2001, EIROforum was formally established by the signing of the EIROforum Charter was signed in Brussels (BE) on 2002-11-12.
The European XFEL Free-Electron Laser Facility (European XFEL) joined EIROforum on 2010-11-08, becoming its eighth member.
EFDA-JET was succeeded in EIROforum by EUROfusion in 2014.
EIROforum is governed by the EIROforum Council, which is comprised of the leaders of the member organisations. One of these leaders is the chair of EIROforum for one year, on a rotational presidency, from 1 July annually. The EIROforum Council meets twice per year, once in Brussels (BE) and once at the institute of that year’s chair.
In the early-1960s, several European scientists shared a vision for a European research centre that would focus on molecular biology. This led to the creation of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in 1964. EMBO’s primary objectives were (and remain): supporting research in the life sciences, and facilitating the exchange of scientific information.
As one way of meeting these goals, EMBO considered the creation of a central laboratory. A Laboratory Committee was set up to explore the options available and answer essential questions. Should this be a new laboratory or envisaged as a federation of laboratories across Europe? What would such a laboratory focus on and provide that national institutions could not? By the early-1970s, the concept of a laboratory that would carry out fundamental research in molecular biology, develop advanced instrumentation and deliver advanced training in the life sciences was agreed upon. In addition, it was decided that the laboratory would consist both of a main laboratory and specialist outstations. The site of Heidelberg for the main laboratory was agreed in 1971.
The multilateral “Agreement establishing the European Molecular Biology” (10 May 1973) was signed by 10 founding members (listed below), and came into force on 4 July 1974. This marks the birth of EMBL as a legal entity.
John Kendrew was appointed as EMBL’s first Director General.
In 1975, a formal agreement with the Deutsches Elektronensynchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg, DE, was ratified, creating the first EMBL outstation. The following year, an agreement was signed with the Institut Laue–Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, FR, creating a second outstation.
In the meantime, the construction of the Heidelberg laboratory was underway. In 1978, EMBL staff moved from the temporary and dispersed facilities they had been occupying around the city of Heidelberg into the new buildings on Meyerhofstraße, next to the Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik (Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics).
In 1980, EMBL started developing a data library, which would centralise DNA sequences. This became the EMBL Data Library; the first release of the Nucleotide Sequence Data Library was in 1982.
In 1982, Lennart Philipson was appointed EMBL’s second Director General. During his tenure, Philipson expanded EMBL’s training activities: courses and conferences were developed, and a new lecture theatre was built. The training of doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows was also developed and formalised in partnership with universities across Europe.
In 1992, EMBL Council approved the establishment of a third outstation, which would focus on bioinformatics, the European Bioinforamtics Institute (EMBL-EBI).
In 1993, Fotis Kafatos was appointed as the third Director General of EMBL.
Throughout 1994, as well as celebrating EMBL’s twentieth birthday, the initial plans for the outstation at Monterotondo were prepared. This outstation would be a mouse research facility, working with the European Mouse Mutant Archive (EMMA).
By the end of the 1994, the EMBL Data Library / EMBL-EBI had relocated to Hinxton, GB, on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus. It was initially housed in temporary offices while new facilities were built (completed in 1995).
In 1997, the Monterotondo outstation began to welcome researchers. The facility was fully operational by 1999.
In 2005, Iain Mattaj was appointed EMBL's fourth Director General.
Since it was founded in 1974, EMBL’s membership has more than doubled. From the 10 original signatories (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom), the following states have joined: Finland (1984), Greece (1984), Norway (1985), Spain (1986), Belgium (1990), Portugal (1998), Ireland (2003), Iceland (2005), Croatia (2006), Luxembourg (2007), the Czech Republic (2014), Malta (2016), Hungary (2017) and Slovakia (2018).
Working beyond Europe, since 2003, the Associate Membership Scheme enables non-European states to benefit from EMBL’s programmes. Australia (since 2008) and Argentina (since 2014) are EMBL’s first two Associate Members States.
Furthermore, as a preliminary step towards membership, Prospect Membership enables members to become affiliated with EMBL with the view of becoming full members. Ad of 2018, Poland (since 2014) and Lithuania (since 2015) are prospect member states.
The EMBL Pen Pals programme was created in 2020 by Mariana R.P. Alves and Rafael Galupa, following Alves' visit to Abuja, NG and Ibadan, NG.