SBI's Amgen Biotech Experience Programme Announced as Part of €600,000 Investment in Science Education in Ireland

Written by: Elaine Quinn
Written on: Tuesday, 25 August, 2015

A science education initiative led by Systems Biology Ireland in partnership with the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute in Dublin City University has been announced by leading biotechnology company Amgen and its philanthropic arm, the Amgen Foundation.

The Amgen Biotech Experience programme together with a complementary programme, Amgen Teach delivered by the Professional Development Service for Teachers, are designed to support the professional development of secondary school life-science teachers, and increase students’ scientific literacy and interest in scientific careers.

Both Amgen Biotech Experience and Amgen Teach support the Irish science school curriculum, providing teachers with the skills and confidence to transform the student experience in learning science. Training is offered free of charge and emphasises hands-on, enquiry-based learning, providing teachers with practical tools they can replicate in the classroom and lab to motivate students.

Additionally, the Amgen Biotech Experience provides molecular biology resources and research grade laboratory equipment available on loan to participating schools.

“Tying real laboratory experiences to the development of medicines through the Amgen Biotech Experience will undoubtedly capture the imagination of these young students” said Professor Walter Kolch, Director, Systems Biology Ireland.

Together, the programmes are expected to reach over 15,000 students and nearly 150 teachers across Ireland over the coming academic year. Over the full three year commitment of the programmes, Amgen Teach and the Amgen Biotech Experience are expected to positively impact approximately 53,000 students and nearly 500 teachers in Ireland.   

The Amgen Teach and Amgen Biotech Experience programmes were announced, together with details of the Amgen Scholars 2015 Ireland recipients, at an event to mark the opening of the new $300 million Amgen facility in Dun Laoghaire. 

Congratulating Amgen for its support of science education, Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD said, “Globally, Ireland now ranks in the top 20 countries for science excellence. Developing collaborative partnerships with leading companies, such as Amgen, to support science education and world–class research will ensure we continue to nurture the next generation of Irish scientists and researchers, enhancing collaboration with enterprise and providing a strong voice for the promotion and support of science, biotechnology and research in Ireland.”

Commenting on the programmes, Kerry Ingalls, Amgen Vice President of Regional Manufacturing said, “Amgen is committed to fostering the scientific potential of a new generation. Ireland is currently the only European country to offer all three science education programmes. I believe that despite increased demand for a science-based workforce, many teachers do not have sufficient access to the impactful training, resources and materials to deliver a high-quality experience to their students. As a result, too few young people are opting for a career in science. Our programmes are designed to change that and to inspire students in Ireland to pursue further education, and possibly even a career, in science.”

He continued, “All three programmes remind us that innovation to improve the lives of patients’ demands partnership between industry, government, public services and academia.”

“This is an exciting opportunity for UCD to partner with Amgen in augmenting teacher and student experiences of science education and facilitating engagement by our researchers with wider society”, said Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact.

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 more than $200 million in grants to local, regional and international nonprofit organisations that impact society in inspiring and innovative ways.

About Amgen Biotech Experience 
Established 25 years ago, the Amgen Biotech Experience programme features a hands-on molecular biology curriculum designed to introduce students to the excitement of scientific discovery. Each year, over 70,000 students and hundreds of science teachers have the opportunity to explore the methods scientists use to create biotechnology medicines. The reach of the programme has been extraordinary, with over 425,000 students to date having experienced the fundamentals of biotechnology across multiple states in the USA, Puerto Rico and the U.K. During a pilot programme in the academic year 2014-2015, the Amgen Biotech Experience Ireland reached over 900 secondary school students in Leinster.  

About Amgen
Amgen is committed to unlocking the potential of biology for patients suffering from serious illnesses by discovering, developing, manufacturing and delivering innovative human therapeutics. This approach begins by using tools like advanced human genetics to unravel the complexities of disease and understand the fundamentals of human biology. Amgen focuses on areas of high unmet medical need and leverages its biologics manufacturing expertise to strive for solutions that improve health outcomes and dramatically improve people's lives.