Program Deepens Scientific Literacy and Cultivates Tomorrow's Innovators Through Hands-On Biotechnology Labs
New Sites in Brazil, Mexico and South Africa
The Amgen Biotech Experience (ABE) program is expanding to reach an additional 180,000 students across diverse communities around the world over the next two years. In addition to 24 existing sites across 13 countries, the hands-on laboratory experience will now be available through pilot programming in Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. From Los Angeles to Munich to Sydney, ABE has already transcended geographical borders to inspire thousands of teachers and nearly one million students since its inception. This latest expansion is made possible by additional funding of $12.4 million from the Amgen Foundation, bringing its total commitment to the program to over $50 million since 1990.
Providing opportunity for under-resourced schools
At its core, the Amgen Biotech Experience is a science education program which builds bridges between secondary schools, industry and academia, enabling teachers to implement real-world, hands-on biotechnology labs in their classrooms at no cost to them or their school. The value of the ABE resources loaned to participating schools can vary by location, but average cost in the Greater Los Angeles region is approximately $32,000 per kit, with a further $25 in consumables per student. The research-grade equipment loan as well as curricula and training provide the opportunity for students to engage in hands-on experiments that would otherwise remain beyond reach for many schools. By bolstering teachers' expertise and equipping them with such a robust toolkit, ABE nurtures a culture of scientific inquiry, breathing life into the concept of 'learning by doing.' In an increasing number of locations, the program is further enhanced by staff volunteers who visit classrooms to share their personal career journeys.
"Investing in hands-on experiences to authentically engage in science is more important than ever, especially given the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to the education system and student learning. The Amgen Foundation believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to learn about science and its potential to improve lives," said Emily Razaqi, Chair of the Amgen Foundation Board of Directors and SVP Corporate Affairs Amgen. "The ABE program is a powerful way to spark curiosity and excitement about science in young people, and reaching students and communities that are under-resourced is a key pillar of the Foundation’s work.”
Free, virtual biotech resources for all students worldwide
Close collaboration with LabXchange has also enabled the development of a new collection of free, virtual biotech resources, designed to complement and build upon the ABE program’s new Exploring Precision Medicine curriculum, further extending the reach of the ABE program by ensuring that online resources are available to all teachers and students worldwide. Scott Heimlich, president of the Amgen Foundation said, “We are excited by the potential of blended learning approaches, taking the best of hands-on learning with the best of educational technology to strengthen student learning outcomes.” The Foundational Concepts and Techniques in Biotechnology resources, based on the core ABE curriculum, are available in 14 languages, including the latest translation in Ukrainian.
ABE’s positive impacts echo around the world
Across the program, impassioned educators and students alike have testified to the transformative power of ABE.
"ABE has been a game-changer for my students," said Wendie Wooten, a biology teacher at Reseda Charter High School, a Title 1 school in Los Angeles. "Without the program, I wouldn't have been able to provide my students with the hands-on experience they need to succeed in STEM. ABE has helped my students develop a passion for science and shown them that they can make a difference in the world."
Wendy’s sentiment is commonly reflected amongst teachers participating in the program. “The majority of high schools simply don’t have the equipment, budget, and experienced staff needed to run biotech labs,” said Amelia Wong, a teacher at Georges Vanier Secondary School in Canada. “Without the training offered by ABE, even if I had access to the equipment, I wouldn’t have the confidence in my ability to conduct them myself.”
Serena Scotellaro, a student in Italy who participated in the ABE program, said, "ABE is a great opportunity which puts high school students like us in touch with the reality of modern science. I really enjoyed this experience because of the use of modern technologies employed by the biotech industry. For me, it was a time of growth, and my biggest takeaway is that ABE helped me decide that I want to continue my scientific education in biotechnology."
A glimpse into the future
The continued expansion of the ABE program is a significant investment in the future of STEM education, providing even more students with the opportunity to learn about biotechnology and its potential to improve lives. “Through ABE, we are instilling in students of today, the techniques and the thought processes to be the future leaders and scientists of tomorrow,” said Wallace Torres, VP of Manufacturing in Amgen Singapore.
And by fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels, ABE aims to support opportunities for underserved student populations globally, with the addition of new program sites bringing new learnings to the global community.
“There have been so many stories of students who were inspired to pursue science as a result of ABE,” notes Robert Argiropoulos, Amgen Executive Director, General Medicine. “It is truly inspiring to know that we are a part of building their futures and creating learning experiences that change lives. The next life-saving discovery is surely in the mind of a high schooler today, and we don’t want that to be lost because they were not given the opportunity to grow and explore.”
About the Amgen Foundation
The Amgen Foundation seeks to advance excellence in science education to inspire the next generation of innovators and invest in strengthening communities where Amgen staff members live and work. To date, the Foundation has donated $425 million to local, regional, and international non-profit organizations that impact society in inspiring and innovative ways. The Amgen Foundation brings the excitement of discovery to the scientists of tomorrow through several signature programs, including LabXchange, Amgen Scholars, Amgen Biotech Experience and Khan Academy. For more information, visit AmgenFoundation.org and follow us on LinkedIn and X.