UMBI was formed in July 2003 as one of the strategies by the university to enhance research in molecular medicine. UMBI has grown in strength over the years and is now recognised as a Higher Institution Centre of Excellence (HICoE) by the Ministry of Higher Education, a status conferred to only 6 centres of excellence in research in the nation. For the HICoE critical agenda program, UMBI is focusing on cancer biomarkers. UMBI has key laboratories providing platform technologies and analysis in genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics.
UMBI is currently spearheading The Malaysian Cohort project which is a top-down national project focused on identifying risk factors and discovering biomarkers for various diseases including cancers. UMBI offers MSc and PhD in molecular medicine and also courses in molecular biology. UMBI has forged collaboration with many international researchers and research institutions. UMBI is also the secretariat for the Asian Journal of Molecular Medicine.