In the mid-1950s, Leela Mulherkar returned to Pune from Edinburgh after completing her doctorate with C. H. Waddington. Soon thereafter she started a master's course in Experimental Embryology at the University of Pune. Some of her former students took up doctoral research in this field. After a few years, Sivatosh Mookerjee began working on sponges and hydra at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. There were a few others who were working in related areas. Soon a need was felt to have a forum for bringing all such people together. The idea of forming an academic society for developmental biologists was converted into reality thanks to the efforts of Suresh Goel, also at Pune, and the Indian Society of Developmental Biologists came into existence in 1977 at a meeting in Bhubaneswar and was formally registered in 1979 at Pune. The number of life members, most of them from India but some from abroad, grew slowly. Today the InSDB has nearly 160 regular members of which 48 are life members. More members join each year with the increasing pool of research labs in the country.
InSDB members now meet once in 2 year to present their work and exchange new ideas. The meetings have been organized in almost all parts of the country such as Delhi, Bhubaneswar, Ajmer, Pune, Kanpur, Dharwad, Mahabaleshwar, Rohtak, Meerut, Kalyani, Mumbai, Jaipur, and may other places. One of the interesting features of these meetings is substantial participation from accomplished developmental biologists from outside India. Many developmental biologists from Japan, Europe and the USA have participated in the meetings as members.
Several scientists and university & college teachers have guided the activities on InSDB over the years in the capacity of its office bearers and board members. Some of the past Presidents of the InSDB include Leela Mulherkar, Suresh Goel, P.N. Srivastava, K. Vasudeva Rao, P. Mohanty-Hejmadi, Sohan Modak, Veronica Rodrigues, Subash Lakhotia, J.K. Pal, Surendra Ghaskadbi, K. Vijayraghavan, Vidyanand Nanjundiah and Pradeep Sinha.
Developmental biology in India was rejuvenated in the 1990s thanks to the entry of an enthusiastic crop of new workers, many of them working on plants (the society had long remained the preserve of the animal kingdom). A positive consequence of this has been that of late the average age of members and office bearers of the Society has come down significantly.