The predecessor of Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences was the Wuhan Institute of Microbiology, prepared to be built in 1956, jointly established by the famous virologist academician Gao Shangyin and the famous microbiologist academician Chen Huagui and a batch of older generation scientists, formally announced to be established in 1958, mainly engaged in agricultural virus and environmental microbe research. At the beginning of 1961, Wuhan branch institute and the Guangzhou branch institute merged to set up the Zhongnan Branch of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan Microbiology Research Laboratory was hence renamed as Wuhan Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. In October 1962, it was again renamed to Wuhan Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. In 1966, the local branch institute of Chinese Academy of Sciences was cancelled. In 1970, Wuhan Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences was placed under the leadership of Hubei Province, changed its name to Hubei Provincial Institute of Microbiology. In 1978 on the eve of holding the National Science and Technology Conference, it returned to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, known as Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the Wuhan Institute of Virology has made a series of important progresses in terms of insect virus, animal virus, molecular virus, virus classification preservation, environmental microbes, fermentation microorganisms and microbial sensors. A number of research achievements have earned national level, Chinese Academy of Sciences and provincial & ministerial level awards for scientific and technological advancement.
In 1998, the Chinese Academy of Sciences launched a pilot project for knowledge innovation. Wuhan Institute of Virology had been centering on the institute reform, setting its strategy in the virus, microbe application research and biological high-tech innovation, and developing a comprehensive supporting reform implementation plans. In 1999, it successfully passed the classification and positioning of Chinese Academy of Sciences, was included in the high-tech research and development base-type research institute. In 2002, it was formally approved into the institute knowledge innovation project pilot sequence, the work of the entire institute had entered into a new stage.
In 2003, SARS virus broke out in our country, the state and the Chinese Academy of Sciences promoted the prevention and control of newly emerging diseases to a new strategic height, Wuhan Institute of Virology adjusted the discipline layout in a timely manner, on the one hand it was to have the advantage integration for the traditional preponderant disciplines such as insect virology, aquatic animal virology, biological control, analysis of biotechnology etc.; on the other hand, through the training and the introduction of talents, it was to lay out a series of medical virus-related discipline groups, engaged in the researches of HIV, influenza virus, hepatitis virus, tumor virus and zoonotic virus and virus replication and antiviral drugs etc. In 2004, the Chinese and French governments signed a cooperation agreement on fighting and preventing new diseases, stressing the active cooperation between China and France in the construction of high-level biosafety laboratories and the system construction of biosafety laws and regulations etc. In order to implement the spirit of Sino-French agreement, in 2005, Wuhan Institute of Virology undertook the task of building a national biosafety laboratory of Wuhan, Chinese Academy of Sciences. With nearly 10 years of unremitting efforts, the laboratory completed the physical facilities in January 2015. The laboratory is aimed to carry out the scientific research on the prevention and control of new infectious diseases and biosafety in order to meet the needs of early warning, detection, research and biosecurity prevention system for emerging infectious diseases in China. It is expected to become the prevention & control research and development center for China’s emerging infectious diseases, virus culture collection centers and WHO reference laboratory, which shall play a basic and technical role in China’s emerging infectious diseases prevention and control, and biosafety.
Regarding the strategic demands of national biosafety and population health, Wuhan Institute of Virology relying on the cluster platform of high-level biosafety laboratories of CAS, focuses on basic and applied basic research in virology, immunology, emerging biotechnology, etc. Meanwhile, it strives to make breakthroughs in cutting-edge scientific research on pathogens of emerging infectious diseases, to markedly improve its capacity of technological innovation, system integration and technology transfer, and to enhance its ability to provide technological support for emergency response to emerging infectious diseases and unexpected outbreaks of epidemics.
Wuhan Institute of Virology has 4 research centers, i.e. the Center for Molecular Virology and Pathology, the Center for Analytical Microbiology and Nanobiology, the Center for Microorganisms Resources and Bioinformatics and the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. The support department is made up of the Microorganisms and Virus Culture Collection Center (MVCCC), the Core Facility Center, Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory etc. MVCCC is also the "National Culture Collection Center" designated by the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Finance.