The International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS) was established in 1919, at the Royal Academy of Sciences, in Brussels, Belgium by the “Assemblée Générale Constitutive” that founded the “Conseil International de Recherches”, now the International Council of Science (ICSU). IUBS is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation, it serves as an umbrella organisation for a large number of scientific organisations: national academies, research centres and councils, international societies and associations. These organisations (44 Ordinary Members, 80 Scientific Members) secure a link with individual researcher and educators in almost every biological discipline such as Botany, Zoology, Cell Biology, Genetics, Developmental Biology, Biometrics, Ecology, Limnology, to mention but a few. IUBS is the only international body that covers all disciplines of Biological Sciences. As an umbrella organisation for international scientific associations, IUBS is developing approaches how scientific disciplines can more successfully interact.
IUBS objectives are to promote the study of biological sciences; to support the organisation of international conferences and assist in the publication of their reports.The IUBS publishes progress reports and scientific results of its own programmes and research projects, besides offering assistance in the publication of the proceedings of workshops and meetings held under its auspices.
IUBS’ main activity is to initiate, facilitate and coordinate research and other scientific activities necessitating international, interdisciplinary cooperation. IUBS conducts international collaborative research programmes in close cooperation with its National and Scientific Members. The topics of these programmes are selected on the basis of their originality and feasibility, as well as their relevance with respect to IUBS objectives, i.e. most importantly: their global scientific importance in the biological sciences and their potential to benefit from international participation. There are no restrictions on theme or applicant, although the latter must have the prior endorsement of a National or Scientific Member of IUBS. Proposals are to be submitted to the Union sufficiently in advance for peer review.
Based upon the recommendations of the "Scientific Programme Committee", the General Assembly adopts priority areas for the implementation of scientific programmes. The General Assembly, convened every three years, decides on the basis of the priorities of the Union and of the recommendations of the reviewers and the Executive Committee, whether a given proposal is endorsed to become an IUBS programme. Preliminary enquires and applications can be addressed to the Executive Director at the IUBS Secretariat in Paris.
The Union may provide funds to launch a programme, but the major funding is usually sought from external contracts. A scientific programme adopted by the General Assembly is normally implemented under the direct responsibility of its initiators. The Scientific Programme Committee of the General Assembly and the Officers see that the necessary conditions are fulfilled. Progress is reviewed at least once every three years. The details of the reviewing process and the nomination of reviewers are determined by the Scientific Programme Committee of the General Assembly.
At the end of the defined period of the scientific programme, IUBS reviews the programme and considers whether to pursue further activities in the field.