BIPS is one of the oldest epidemiological institutes in Germany. It was founded in 1981 under the name of "Bremen Institute for Prevention Research and Social Medicine" as a research institute of the Society for the Promotion of Scientific Research in the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen (Verein zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung in der Freien Hansestadt Bremen e.V.). The new institute was quickly well-known in the Bremen public through the conduction of the German Cardiovascular Prevention Study which had numerous participants from the public and prominent support from the political sector. The health education which emanated from the activities of this study laid the foundations for the work at BIPS: aetiological research, education about risks and development of measures that contribute to a healthier lifestyle.
From 1998 to 2006, one section of the institute became a scientific institution of the faculty for Human and Health Sciences of the University of Bremen. Both sections continued to cooperate closely up until 2007, when they were rejoined to a central research unit of the university.
In November 2008, the BIPS was accepted as an associated member of the Leibniz Association. During the course of being accepted as a full member of the Leibniz Association, the institute was outsourced from the University of Bremen as of January 1, 2012 and continued its work as a non-profit organisation. As of January 1, 2013, the institute is a full member of the Leibniz Association and operates under the new name Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology - BIPS.