Amgen issues a call to local science teachers and Newbury Park High School teacher Hugh Nelson is selected to participate in Amgen’s first Teacher Internship program.
With a belief that Amgen could be instrumental in providing professional development for teachers and ultimately improving science education for students, former staff members Bruce Wallace, Steve Elliot, and others at the company put out a call for biology teachers interested in a summer intern program.
Intrigued, Hugh Nelson, a high school biology teacher in Thousand Oaks, California, responded to their invitation. Nelson set about learning the procedures Amgen uses to develop biologics, and, also seeing the potential benefit for students, then worked with an Amgen scientist to fine-tune a series of labs for high school students. Amgen agreed to provide equipment and chemicals to teach the lab procedures in area high schools.
Amgen launches the first school program. Within two years of the launch, 1,300 students from 12 local schools participate
With the help of Steve Elliot and Rick Jacobsen (both Amgen staff members), Hugh developed the protocols for the program’s curriculum. He then beta-tested the labs at Newbury Park High School in the spring of ‘91 in an honors biology class.
Hugh takes one-year sabbatical from teaching to provide professional development training around the Amgen school program to local science educators at Thousand Oaks High School, Westlake High School, and other schools in Ventura County, California.
Pierce College Professor Marty Ikkanda rewrites the program to resemble college curriculum in collaboration with Rick Jacobsen, Bruce Wallace, and Bio-Rad.
Amgen enlisted Marty Ikkanda, a professor of biological sciences at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, California, to revise the program’s curriculum to resemble his college classes, including giving students a chance to work with green florescent protein expression and purification. The revised program was rolled out to 20 schools the next school year, and grew to 30 schools by the school year’s end.
To honor one of the program’s founders who passed away, the program was named the Amgen-Bruce Wallace Biotechnology Lab Program in 2003.
The Amgen-Bruce Wallace Biotechnology Lab Program, supported over the years by Amgen Inc., finds a home with the Amgen Foundation, the primary philanthropic vehicle of the company.
The program expands to additional locations throughout the U.S. including Puerto Rico.
Over several years, new teachers were trained and began supporting the program at high schools across southern and northern California, Washington, Rhode Island, Colorado, Puerto Rico, and Massachusetts
Red fluorescent protein gene, from the Tsien Lab at UCSD, replaces green florescent protein in the program labs. Two years later, Roger Yonchien Tsien along with two other chemists, received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work with florescent molecules.
The program expands to Washington, D.C. and internationally.
The program expands to offer even more students and teachers the opportunity to participate. The program also expands to its first international locations: England and Ireland.
The program was renamed the Amgen Biotech Experience and joined forces with Education Development Center, Inc. as the global program office overseeing the program’s growth.
Each year, more than 70,000 students and hundreds of science teachers participate in the Amgen Biotech Experience to explore the methods scientists use to create biotechnology medicines. To date, the Amgen Foundation has committed nearly $14 million to the Amgen Biotech Experience to provide hands-on molecular biology curricula to over 425,000 students across multiple U.S. states, Puerto Rico, U.K., and Ireland.
The Amgen Foundation seeks to inspire the next generation of scientists. Through initiatives like the Amgen Scholars Program and the Amgen Biotech Experience, the Foundation creates opportunities for young people to gain hands-on science experiences. To date, the Amgen Foundation has committed over $100 million globally to ignite student passion for science.