The Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology (NWIPB), established in 1962, is engaged in basic and applied research on plateau ecology, biological resources and plateau ecoagriculture.

Its scientific research areas include the alpine meadow ecosystem, alpine mammals, alpine agriculture, and biological resources of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, among other fields. In the future, the institute hopes to make breakthroughs in sustainable management technology for the alpine grassland ecosystem and heavy metal safety evaluation technology for Tibetan medicine.

Over the past half century, NWIPB has recorded over 350 important scientific achievements and has won 138 prizes at the national, CAS and provincial levels. For example, a monograph on Gentiana won a Second-class National Natural Science Award in 2004; a study on the uses of Nitraria resources from the Qaidam Basin won a Second-level National Science and Technology Progress Award in 2007; and development of Plateau 602, a type of spring wheat, won a Third-level National Science and Technology Progress Award. 

Since 1962, NWIPB has published 135 monographs and 4,144 papers. It has also developed 41 new crop varieties and been granted 76 patents.

The institute houses research centers dedicated to plateau ecology, biological resources, and plateau ecoagriculture. The institute's facilities include four field research stations, the CAS Key Laboratory of Adaptation and Evolution of Plateau Biota, the CAS Key Laboratory of Tibetan Medicine, four Qinghai provincial key laboratories and two engineering research centers. The institute’s Analytical Testing Center is also an important technical platform for scientific innovation. The institute’s Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau Museum of Biology has the greatest number of biological specimens from the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau of any such repository in the world.

As of 2019, institute had 174 employees, including 111 research staff. NWIPB's personnel include one CAS member, 31 professors and 36 associate professors. Eighty of the institute's scholars have doctoral degrees.

The institute offers doctoral and postdoctoral programs in ecology and biology. It also offers master’s programs in ecology, botany, zoology and Chinese pharmacology. As of June 2013, a total of 342 individuals had received doctoral degrees from the institute and 342 individuals had received master’s degrees. In addition, 28 postdoctoral researchers and over 200 visiting researchers had worked, or were still working, at NWIPB.

NWIPB attaches great importance to cooperating with scientists around the world. Since the 1980s, NWIPB has established long-term friendly cooperative relationships with researchers in the USA, the UK, Germany, Sweden, Russia and Australia, etc. The institute has promoted academic exchange and cooperation in the fields of biodiversity, animal evolutionary adaptation, the physiological response of plants to climate change, plant systematics, traditional Chinese pharmaceuticals and migratory bird behavior/virology in high-latitude areas and similar environments.

The institute is seeking international cooperation in the following research areas: 1) alpine plant evolution and adaptation; 2) ecosystem processes/functions under the influence of global climate change; 3) germplasm creation and breeding of high-yield alpine crops and forage grasses; 4) sustainable utilization and product development of plateau bioresources; and 5) development and introduction of sustainable alpine ecosystem models and technologies.