The first ideas about the possibility of creating an Institute of Evolutionary Biology (Institut de Biologia Evolutiva, IBE) appeared during the preparation process of the CSIC Strategic Plan 2006-2009. While analysing the work carried out at the Department of Physiology and Molecular Biodiversity (DPMB) of the Institute of Molecular Biology of Barcelona (IBMB) it became clear that its research lines would be better developed in an institute of evolutionary biology. This, and the CSIC strategy of establishing new cooperative links with emerging universities, led to the first meetings with the Evolutionary Biology Unit (UBE) of the Pompeu Fabra University (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, UPF), in order to explore the possibilities of creating a joint CSIC-UPF research institute in Catalonia.
At that time, the approximately dozen of group leaders from both DPMB (CSIC) and UBE (UPF) covered research topics on a variety of lines around Evolutionary Biology subjects, which was considered enough to start. Therefore, in May 2007, a team formed by three researchers from the CSIC and three from the UPF prepared a formal Scientific Project for a new institute, the IBE, which was submitted to the CSIC and to the UPF. After a number of iterations, the Scientific Project was approved by the CSIC in March 2008 and by the UPF in May 2008. On July 16th, 2008, a formal Agreement for the Creation of the IBE was signed by the President of the CSIC and the Vicechancellor of the UPF. On July 24th, 2008, the Governing Committee of the CSIC, after receiving the favourable report from the Ministry of Science and Innovation, officially approved the creation of the IBE as a joint CSIC-UPF new institute of research.
Evolutionary biology aims at studying the processes and mechanisms generating biodiversity. After the Human Genome project, the description and comprehension of biodiversity is one of the most important scientific challenges of the XXI century, and coping to this challenge requires the methods and concepts of evolutionary biology. In particular, we need to understand the genetic basis of the difference among species (divergence) as well as within every species (variation, polymorphism), paying special attention at how differences are fixed and how are distributed, transmitted, maintained and how they interact with the environment. The description of genomes and the understanding of genomic differences in organisms are of paramount importance to understand the basic mechanisms of life and to place biodiversity into a robust evolutionary frame.
The general objective of the IBE is to work on these contexts using all the available new tools, experimental and computational, to understand the basic functioning of life, to describe and put in context their diversity, to unveil the mechanisms generating biological innovations and evolutionary changes and, finally, to preserve biodiversity and to promote its use in a sustainable way. In particular, the basis of the IBE, and its main peculiarity, is the capacity to face biodiversity studies describing genomic and functional evolution at any observational scale: molecular, biochemical, physiological or morphological. The IBE aims at becoming an international reference in these subjects.