About ABE

Amgen Biotech Experience (ABE) is an innovative science education program that introduces students to the excitement of scientific discovery and builds bridges between school and the real-life biosciences. ABE prepares the next generation of scientists and innovators and provides access to cutting-edge science through four key areas:

Teaching Resources and Equipment

ABE provides high-quality teaching and learning resources for secondary schools, including laboratory-based and classroom-based curriculum materials as well as Web-based resources. The program also loans research-grade equipment and supplies at no cost to teachers in select regions.

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Teacher Professional Learning and Community

ABE supports teachers around the world through high-quality professional learning experiences, access to a global community of practice, and implementation resources.

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Connecting Scientists to Classrooms

ABE facilitates connections between students and real-world scientists through our ABE Volunteer Program, as well as through our Biotech Careers profile series.

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Equity and Access in STEM

ABE works with the Amgen Foundation to develop and advance opportunities for underserved and underrepresented populations to access, engage, and succeed in pathways to bioscience.

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Download our ABE Fact Sheet for a quick summary of the program.

Impact

ABE reaches approximately 90,000 STUDENTS in a typical year. Since 1990, the program has reached nearly 850,000 students and has expanded to 24 LOCATIONS across the globe.

More than 3,100 TEACHERS have implemented ABE in their classrooms.

More than 1,700 SCHOOLS have been served.

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ABE Is Effective

Studies have shown that students exposed to ABE have increased interest and confidence in science and biotechnology.

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Students made a significant and substantial gain in biotech learning.

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Teachers reported greater interest, knowledge, and skills from their ABE training.

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56% of participating ABE schools are designated as Title I in the U.S.

  • The ABE program has changed the way I learn biology. Apart from studying pictures in the textbook, I am now able to work with the “real” experiments that scientists do every day. 

    Student, ABE Hong Kong SAR
  • When I learned it in class, I had the impression that biotechnology experiment was a high-level experiment, but it was a lot of fun to realize that we could do it ourselves.

    Student, ABE Japan
  • We constantly have former students come back to tell us that they chose to major in science, biotech or related fields because of this experience.

    Jim Mauch | Teacher, ABE Los Angeles
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    Jim Mauch
  • When I started this program about twelve years ago, I had little confidence in implementing biotechnology into my teaching practice. It is because of the trainings and opportunities provided by ABE that I have gained confidence in biotechnology and teach the complete sequence of the labs to my AP and IB students.

    Amy Welch | Teacher, ABE Los Angeles
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    Amy Welch
  • Small rural school districts are not able to purchase and maintain the most current biotechnology equipment and are certainly unable to continually invest in the consumable items required to run laboratories. The Amgen Foundation is providing a tremendous service to the current generation by providing the means and opportunity to put ‘real science’ into the hands of all students giving them the inspiration and confidence to yearn for more.

    Lisa Sequeira | Teacher, ABE Massachusetts
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    Lisa Sequeira
  • I wouldn’t have known about this field, how stimulating and enjoyable it is, without having sampled the life of a scientist through the biotech labs used by the Amgen Biotech Experience.

    ABE Student, Unknown Location
  • Before ABE, I pretty much avoided biotechnology as a curriculum topic. It's hard to teach to students who don't have a framework to understand it, especially when you don't have the equipment, the reagents or the cell cultures and you have limited or no experience with the lab techniques involved. Now that I'm an ABE teacher... it's exciting and it's doable.

    Teacher, ABE San Francisco
  • I enjoyed the process of testing, analyzing, and drawing a conclusion, which is why I hope to become a research scientist one day. Of course, no high school lab can compare to the arduous research and amount of dead ends people in labs face, but getting a glimpse, of the collaboration in lab and dedication of scientists who eventually make big discoveries, was rewarding.

    Student, ABE Washington State
  • ABE is an amazing opportunity to bring real science into the classroom. Students are able to gain valuable skills as well as apply the knowledge we learn in class that I would not be otherwise able to afford on our school budget.

    Linda Crossno | Teacher, ABE Los Angeles
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    Linda Crossno

 Program Recognition

  • ABE was given the highest designation of effectiveness in WestEd’s STEMworks database of programs that meet high standards for quality and impact.
  • Independent and rigorous evaluation data found that students exposed to ABE have significant and substantial learning in biotechnology and increased interest and confidence in doing science and biotechnology.

     

Our History

ABE was developed by high school teacher Hugh Nelson, Amgen scientist Bruce Wallace, and Professor Marty Ikkanda. Watch a video that tells the story about how the program was started. 

Though ABE now reaches 90,000 students and 1,500 teachers each year, the program had humble beginnings. It all started with a group of scientists and teachers who had a passion for sharing their knowledge with students.

Amgen scientists believed that the company could be instrumental in providing professional development to area high school teachers, toward a goal of improving science education for students. In 1989, they worked with a biology teacher in Thousand Oaks, California, Hugh Nelson, to learn the procedures Amgen uses to develop biologics, and Nelson 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.

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“The labs put students in touch with the reality of modern science,” says Nelson. “It takes money to do experiments, and Amgen provided the funding for this important, transformative program. I’m no less in awe of the program [now] than I was in 1989." DOWNLOAD ARTICLE

In 1999, 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. The revised program was rolled out to 20 schools the next school year, and had grown to 30 schools by the school year’s end.

“Teachers tell us they don’t have attendance problems when they’re doing the Amgen biotechnology labs,” says Ikkanda, who retired from the program in 2013. “It’s a fantastic way to interest students in science.” In 2005, the Amgen Foundation, the main philanthropic arm of Amgen, partnered with Professor Ikkanda to expand training outside of Southern California. Over several years, the program expanded to new Amgen communities in the United States and Europe.

In 2013, the Amgen Foundation joined forces with Education Development Center, a global nonprofit organization with deep experience and expertise in science education, to establish a Program Office to support and strengthen the program. The program has continued to expand into new Amgen communities internationally.

A collaboration that began over 30 years ago inspired the ongoing commitment of scientists and teachers to share their knowledge of and passion for science. The Amgen Foundation is proud to continue its support of a program that is stronger than ever—and poised to bring real-world biotechnology to a new generation of teachers and students. “That pioneering spirit distinguishes Amgen,” says Eduardo Cetlin, president of the Amgen Foundation. “We’re forever grateful to those early collaborators for the roots of this powerful program.”

The Amgen Foundation

The Amgen Foundation created ABE in 1990. Today, the Amgen Foundation directs and funds ABE in 23 locations worldwide. The Amgen Foundation seeks to advance excellence in science education to inspire the next generation of innovators, as well as to invest in strengthening communities where Amgen staff members live and work.  

To date, the Foundation has donated more than $350 million to local, regional, and international non-profit organizations that impact society in inspiring and innovative ways. Learn more about the Foundation's commitment to the scientists of tomorrow at www.amgeninspires.com and follow them on Twitter (@AmgenFoundation).

Amgen Foundation Education Initiatives

The Amgen Foundation has contributed over $200 million to advancing science education programming globally. In addition to supporting ABE, the Amgen Foundation supports the following science and biotechnology education initiatives:

Amgen Scholars llogo

Each summer, hundreds of undergraduates step into some of the world’s premier research universities and institutions to participate in the Amgen Scholars Program. Students conduct hands-on research in the lab alongside top faculty, participate in seminars and networking events, and take part in symposia with their peers and leading scientists.

Khan Academy logo

Khan Academy is a nonprofit educational organization created in 2008 by Sal Khan, with the goal of creating a set of online tools that help educate students. The organization produces short lessons in the form of videos. Its website also includes supplementary practice exercises and materials for educators. Khan Academy offers numerous videos that supplement the ABE labs.

LabXchange logo

LabXchange is a free platform developed by Harvard University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences that allows students to explore the world of biotechnology and expand their ABE learning experience with simulations, videos, narratives from scientists, and more. LabXchange's resources can be used to support students' learning through a hybrid ABE experience or a fully remote biotechnology learning experience. Additionally, the resources can be used as tools to differentiate instruction in a full in-person learning environment. Check out the ABE landing page to see some of the LabXchange resources we offer.

The ABE Team

ABE is a large endeavor, and the Amgen Foundation, the ABE Program Office, ABE program sites, ABE teachers, and industry supporters make it possible. Click the image  at the right to see the program’s organizational structure.

The Program Office serves as the administrative home for ABE, providing technical assistance, developing resources, and supporting program sites and participating teachers. The Program Office manages communications and outreach and works alongside the Amgen Foundation to advance the ABE program.

ABE Org Chart

ABE Supporters

 

The Amgen Foundation funds ABE in its local communities, with a total commitment of more than $40 million to date. However, ABE is made possible through the generosity and support of numerous organizations and individuals in addition to the Amgen Foundation. Thank you!

Donations

New England Biolabs, Inc. generously donates the reagents used in the Foundations of Biotech labs to participating ABE schools.

New England BioLabs logo

Site Sponsors

The following companies financially support ABE program sites. We want to thank them for their generosity.

Embitec logo

Richard King Mellon Foundation logo 

Discounts

The following companies offer discounted kit materials, making it possible for us to afford more kits for schools:

Eppendorf logo

Stellar Scientific logo

ThermoFisher Scientific logo

Acknowledgments

The ABE program would like to acknowledge the contributions of the organizations and individuals that support our work, without which we would not have been able to provide biotechnology learning experiences to so many students around the world.

We are grateful to Takara Bio USA, Inc., and the University of California San Diego, which permit the use of the red fluorescent gene tdTomato in this program. We would also like to thank Wendie Johnston, PhD (Pasadena Bioscience Collaborative), for her support of the ABE Greater Los Angeles Area program.