The centre is founded on several long-standing collaborative relationships initiated by Prof Tao Dong (Oxford), who has been working between Oxford and China on topics including immunity to the Influenza virus and HIV since 2003, and more recently, Hepatitis B and C, with support from the former and current Directors of the Human Immunology Unit, Professor Sir Andrew McMichael and Professor Vincenzo Cerudolo. These working relationships have generated several high-impact publications and, more importantly, a solid foundation for the diversification of the research towards translational immunology. Significant contributions to scientific infrastructure and programmatic support in China have been provided by many sponsors including the National Science Foundation China (NSFC), the Chinese Ministry for Science and Technology, and You'an Hospital.
In May 2012, several high-profile Principal Investigators from Oxford, including the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University - Professor Andrew Hamilton, visited China for an event celebrating the collaboration between Oxford and China in the field of Medical Sciences. As part of this event a roundtable meeting was held to discuss the most appropriate areas for future collaboration. At this meeting, immunology was identified as a key area for development.