With 16 laboratories and 200 scientists, the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, IMP, is a leading life science center in Europe. It is part of the Vienna Biocenter, in the founding of which the Swiss molecular biologist Max L. Birnstiel played a major role in its foundation. Birnstiel graduated in physical chemistry and botany from ETH Zurich, then worked at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, the University of Edinburgh and Zurich. In 1986, Birnstiel became head of the IMP, and in 1997 he created Intercell.
Birnstiel has received numerous honors, including the prestigious Swiss Otto Nägeli Prize and the Grand Decoration of Silver of the Republic of Austria, and he has received honorary doctorates from the University of Guelph, the University of Edinburgh, and the Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology in Moscow, among others. In 2017, the Max Birnstiel Foundation was established, which is dedicated to promoting young scientists in molecular biology.