Amgen Biotech Experience Turns 25!

Nov 2, 2015 3:30 PM ET

Amgen Foundation has been, and continues to be, deeply committed to investing in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education and promoting science literacy. To ignite a passion for science in students, it is crucial that they have access to hands-on experiences in the classroom. Likewise, it is essential that teachers are equipped with the knowledge, resources and professional development opportunities needed to inspire their students.

Twenty-five years ago, Amgen’s scientists partnered with teachers to make great strides toward this goal. The Amgen Biotech Experience (ABE) was created to provide opportunities for young people to gain hands-on science experiences in the classroom through an interactive curriculum and professional grade lab equipment. To celebrate the program’s 25th anniversary, we have created an interactive timeline that showcases ABE’s genesis and how it grew over the past two and a half decades. Here are some highlights:

  • 1989: The Amgen Biotech Experience is born. Amgen employees Bruce Wallace and Steve Elliot put out a call for biology teachers interested in a summer intern program. Hugh Nelson, a high school biology teacher in Thousand Oaks, California, responded to their invitation. The trio worked together to fine-tune a series of labs for high school students. Amgen agreed to provide equipment and chemicals to teach these lab procedures in California area high schools.                                                                                                                           
  • 1990-1991: Amgen launches the first school program, at Newbury Park High School. Within two years of the launch, 1,300 students from 12 local schools in California had participated.
  • 1999-2000: Pierce College Professor Marty Ikkanda rewrites the program to resemble college curriculum in collaboration with Rick Jacobsen, Bruce Wallace, and Bio-Rad.
  • 2006-2010: ABE expands to additional locations throughout the U.S., including Puerto Rico.
  • 2011-2014: The program goes overseas, to England and Ireland. To view all of the places ABE reaches, please visit our interactive map.
  • 2015: ABE continues to be active in STEM education, with more than 70,000 students and hundreds of science teachers participating each year. To date, the Amgen Foundation has committed nearly $13 million to ABE and provided hands-on biology curricula to over 425,000 students across multiple U.S. states, Puerto Rico, U.K. and Ireland.

And we are just getting started! We recently announced that the Amgen Foundation will invest more than $4 million to support and strengthen the ABE program across the United States, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom and Ireland over the next two years. That means we expect to reach an additional 1,000 teachers and more than 150,000 new students.

When you watch ABE in action, it’s amazing to see how powerful this hands-on experience is for students. It builds confidence, curiosity and a better understanding of the world around them. More importantly, this program has been a turning point for students; as is the case with ABE alumni Kimberly Piper and Angeline Marcks, who are both pursuing careers in science after their own ABE experiences.

Looking back, we are so grateful for all of the teachers, educators and supporters who have made ABE such a success over the past 25 years. Looking forward to the next 25 years, we can’t wait to continue to inspire the next generation of innovators.


To learn more about the Amgen Biotech Experience, please visit our website and check out the #BiotechExperience hashtag on Twitter. Visit and follow @AmgenFoundation to stay up to date with all STEM-related news from the Amgen Foundation.