The core of the Amgen Biotech Experience (ABE) is a unique partnership between scientists and teachers. Amgen scientists contribute their expertise in cutting-edge research and desire to empower students in STEM, while teachers contribute their expertise in how to interest and motivate students and their desire to connect STEM to the real-world.
School is out for summer – or almost – for most high school students globally. But for some teachers, the learning is going to continue. Around the world, Amgen Biotech Experience (ABE) sites are gearing up for their professional development institutes, or PDIs. These multi-day workshops train high school teachers in the ABE curriculum, directly giving them experience with the hands-on biotech labs they’ll run in their classrooms when school resumes in the fall.
From an early age, Suzanne Rohrback had a unique insight into the need for science to bridge gaps in medical care. Her big brother is autistic and growing up, Rohrback remembers thinking there were no good options for him – unmedicated, he could be unpredictably violent and medicated, he would be zombie-like. “But we don’t understand enough about what goes wrong in this condition to have created a better solution,” she says.
In Hong Kong and much of the broader East Asia area, the educational system is highly focused on exams. Teachers have their hands full just trying to prepare their students for the intense testing that occurs. Lab time is often reserved only for after school extracurricular activities. But some teachers are still pushing themselves and their students even further, bringing real-world biotech into their labs.
The word “creativity” may not be traditionally associated with scientific research, but for Elisa D’Arcangelo, it sums up some of the aspects she most values about being a biomedical engineer. As a tissue engineer, she must come up with creative solutions for growing tissue in the lab that can help shape new therapies for cancer and other diseases.
On one typically overcast morning in April, I stepped out of my comfort zone and headed down to the Herbert Park Hotel in Ballsbridge, Dublin, to address the delegates at the Amgen Biotech Experience (ABE) global annual meeting. I spent the evening beforehand thinking of what I would say during the allocated five minutes. There are so many positive things to say about the ABE program, and I wanted to do it justice; the idea of speaking in front of an assembled audience of experts, and strangers, however, was a bit daunting.
At a meeting of the American Academy of Neurology last year, Megan Krench saw something remarkable: Children, previously unable to move their head or sit up, were turning their heads to look at their parents, sitting up, and even walking. It was a video of a company’s clinical trial for a gene therapy to treat a devastating childhood neuromuscular disorder, spinal muscular atrophy. Infants with this disease typically never reach any developmental milestones, and most die by age two.
When Bronwyn Scott received a Stamps Scholarship a couple years ago, she cited an Amgen Scholar as the person having the greatest impact on her in her college career: “My incredible research mentor Dr. Joy Wolfram had inspired me to work hard, believe in myself, and remain unapologetic for my passion and drive. She continuously pushes me to reach for goals I thought were unattainable.”
Three years after Enrique García-Rivera left his home school in Puerto Rico for an Amgen Scholars summer at the University of California, San Francisco, he found himself in an unexpected place: He was coaching a high school biotechnology club in Massachusetts, helping them with the Genes in Space challenge for NASA. He walked the teenagers through different types of DNA reactions that could theoretically be altered by zero-gravity.