The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) had its origin as Central Malaria Bureau, established at Kasauli (Himachal Pradesh) in 1909 and following expansion was renamed in 1927 as the Malaria Survey of India. The organization was shifted to Delhi in 1938 and called as the Malaria Institute of India (MII). In view of the drastic reduction achieved in the incidence of malaria under National Malaria Eradication Programme (NMEP), Government of India decided to reorganize and expand the activities of the institute to cover other communicable diseases. Thus, on July 30, 1963 the erstwhile MII was renamed as NICD to shoulder these additional responsibilities.
The institute was established to function as a national centre of excellence for control of communicable diseases. The function of the institute also included various areas of training and research using multi-disciplinary integrated approach. The institute was, in addition, expected to provide expertise to the States and Union Territories (UTs) on rapid health assessment and laboratory based diagnostic services. Surveillance of communicable diseases and outbreak investigation also formed an indispensable part of its activities.