The Chair of Biomedical Ethics at the University of Zurich was established in 2005 in response to the increasing demand for research, teaching and consultancy in the field of medical ethics and bioethics. In 2007 the Institute for Biomedical Ethics (IBME) was founded. It is part of the Medical Faculty of the University of Zurich and is located at the Ethics Centre, an interdisciplinary centre of competence that plays a prominent role in the Swiss discourse on ethical issues. The IBME is also a WHO Collaborating Centre for Bioethics.

As of September 1, 2014, the Chair of Medical History was newly integrated into the Institute for Biomedical Ethics. This is now called the Institute for Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine. The IBME is now also represented by the Department of Medical History in the Competence Centre History of Knowledge of the UZH & ETHZ.