The international reach of the Amgen Scholars Program is broader than ever before, with 8 new institutions in Asia, Australia, Canada, and the United States joining the Program in 2019 – bringing the total number of global sites to 24. As the Japan Amgen Scholars Program enters its fifth year, Steve Sugino, Vice President of Amgen, caught up with its Directors, Dr. Ichiro Sakuma, Professor at The University of Tokyo, and Dr. Fuyuki Ishikawa, Professor at Kyoto University, about their views on innovation, memorable student moments, and more.
Written by Scott Heimlich, Vice President, Amgen Foundation
Day 1 (March 4, 2019)
First off, a thank you to the Lemelson Foundation for inviting me to speak at their session tomorrow on A New Paradigm for Tomorrow’s Workforce. I look forward to joining my fellow panelists from Lemelson, the Digital Harbor Foundation, McKay High School, and MIT to discuss this important issue.
Becky Pferdehirt knew she wanted to be a scientist ever since her high school biology class. Seeing a DNA band move through agarose gel got her hooked on discovery, and she became driven toward a scientific career that she hoped would “leave the world better than I had found it,” she says.
For Saira Sakalaš, learning she was selected as an Amgen Scholar last year was the beginning of a new chapter in her life. She says she will never forget the moment she got an email from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden offering her the fellowship.
In second grade, when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Timothy Day said: “a chemist who would try to cure cancer.” He wasn’t too far off the mark. Two decades later, with biochemistry, microbiology, and neuroscience degrees in hand, Amgen Scholar alumnus Day has started his own company to to develop gene therapies for intestinal and systemic diseases.
ASP: Can you tell me a little bit about your research as an Amgen Scholar?
Loving: During my time as an Amgen Scholar at the UC Berkeley, I have been working with Priya Moorjani’s lab, which focuses on evolutionary biology and population genetics. I have been developing and implementing a pipeline for reliably estimating the germline mutation rate in primates.
Ask Ivan Simpson-Kent who his early idols were and he would give a surprising response: criminals. This is despite growing up in a dangerous neighborhood in West Philadelphia, where he lived across from drug dealers, often heard gunshots at night, and nearly daily stories of people, mostly youth, getting murdered. “I perceived these criminals as invincible outlaws going against the limits society had placed upon them,” he says.