The Institute of Biomedical Sciences of Universidade de São Paulo -ICB/USP- was created as a result of the University Reform that was implemented in Brazil in 1968.

The main points of this reform were

  • The establishment of the Departments organized by several Full Professors elected for a fixed term of office by a committee of teaching staff from the Department.
  • The establishment of the Basic Cycles.

The establishment of the Basic Cycles resulted in the creation of Institutes and Basic faculties/colleges, separate from the Vocational colleges.

The Institute of Biomedical Sciences was created by the merger of preclinical Departments originating from the Faculties of Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy.

The various Departments of Anatomy, Histology, Pharmacology, Physiology, Microbiology and Parasitology were separated from the original Faculties and joined together, constituting unified Departments of Anatomy, Histology, Physiology-Pharmacology, Microbiology and Parasitology, which currently constitute the Institute of Biomedical Sciences. The Department of Physiology was initially unified together with the Department of Physiology, from which it separated later. Education and research in Immunology, which was pursued in the Department of Microbiology, ended up developing into an independent area and later constituted a separate Department .

The Departments were initially located in several different locations in the city of São Paulo, and buildings were gradually built to unify the laboratories and classrooms in the main campus of Universidade de São Paulo.


After it was set up, ICB began to hold classes in Anatomy, Pharmacology, Physiology, Histology and Embryology, Immunology, Microbiology and Parasitology for undergraduate students enrolled in various courses in the area of health sciences. Initially the students were those enrolled in the faculties of the area of health, such as the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Dentistry, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Biosciences, as well as the students of the Physiotherapy, Nutrition, Nursing, Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy courses, linked to the Faculties of Medicine and of Public Health. Over time, the range of topics expanded, encompassing students of Physical Education and Sports, Psychology, Enviromental Engineering, Chemistry and the course of Molecular Sciences.

Nowadays, ICB teaches 106 courses with around 9 thousand annual student enrollments.
In 2005 ICB established an undergraduate course called Basic Health Sciences. Its students come from other faculties and institutes of USP who have decided to take this course. From 2012, ICB will offer a Bachelor’s Degree Course in Biomedical Sciences as well. The main aim of this course is to prepare future generations for Basic and Biological Biomedical Research.


Besides education, ICB has also developed intensive research activity over the years.

The University Reform of 1968 coincided with the formal establishment of Graduate studies in Brazil. The ICB organized then several Graduate Programs that were gradually created according to the legislation issued by the University´s Central Committee for Graduate studies. This program confers Master´s and PhD degrees.

Directly related to its research activity, in its seven Departments, the Institute deployed seven Graduate Programs. These Programs are well consolidated and well evaluated by CAPES, the Federal Government body that controls and rates graduate programs. Moreover, ICB takes part in the Interdeparmental Biotechnology Program (held together with Instituto Butantan and the Instituto de Pesquisas Tecnológicas de São Paulo (Institute of Technological Research of Sao Paulo), and other academic units of USP.

Today the Masters and Doctors who graduated at ICB are working in Universities, Research Institutes or Industries, in many different regions of the country or abroad.

During their courses, the undergraduate students, belonging or not to USP, have the chance to take part in the scientific research in process at ICB, by means of Scientific Training internships offered annually by this Institute.
Today, around 144 research professors work at the Institute, graduated in many different professional areas. All of them are PhDs (many are also MDs) and  completed post-doctoral fellowships at overseas centers of excellence, and the vast majority work full time in education and research.

To develop these activities, the Institute has classrooms and didactic laboratories, modern research laboratories, a library with an excellent didactic collection in multimedia and valuable collections of books and scientific journals.

The Institute has about 26 various-sized animal facilities specialized in mammals, insects and aquatic organisms, that provide animsl for research.

The Museu de Anatomia Humana “Prof. Alfonso Bovero” anatomy museum, organized and kept by the Anatomy Department,  has around 1,100 anatomical preparations and several rare books available for teaching and consultation.


ICB maintains an extensive series of Culture and Community Outreach activities that range from the organization of exhibitions, courses, Anatomy Museum and departmental museums. We also provide medical and dental care at the Advanced Center for Research on Tropical Diseases, particularly malaria, in Monte Negro, Rondônia in the Amazon.