About the Amgen-Bruce Wallace Biotechnology Lab Program
The Amgen-Bruce Wallace Biotechnology Lab Program is an educational outreach program that provides equipment, curriculum assistance and supplies to high schools and colleges. The program integrates a hands-on, inquiry-based molecular biology curriculum designed to introduce, with extensive teacher support, the excitement of scientific discovery to students. Each year, over 50,000 students and hundreds of science teachers participate in this laboratory experience and have the opportunity to explore the steps involved in creating biotechnology therapeutics. The reach of this program has been extraordinary with over 250,000 students exposed to the fundamentals of biotechnology across multiple U.S. states and the U.K.
The Amgen-Bruce Wallace Biotechnology Lab Program engages students from diverse backgrounds in learning molecular biology using relevant curricula, tools and techniques. It exposes students to the wide range of career opportunities in science. Aligned with National and State Science Education Standards, the program supports the goal of achieving scientific literacy. The program not only provides a thoroughly tested and robust curriculum, but also provides a full suite of transportable, research-grade equipment and supplies to allow teachers to conduct advanced and contemporary activities within their high school classroom. The laboratory experiments incorporate core technologies used by the biotechnology industry in the discovery of human therapeutics, including the use of recombinant DNA techniques, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and important molecular "tracers" such as red fluorescent protein developed in the Tsien Laboratory at UCSD.
With cutbacks in educational funding and classroom strategies largely focused on "teaching to the test," less time and resources are available for scientific laboratory experiences. The National Academies' National Research Council has identified a significant disconnect between laboratory experiences and teachers' abilities to generate student interest in science. Exacerbating this disconnect has been the explosion of scientific information and the rapid emergence of scientific technologies over the past several decades. Without professional development targeting these technologies and their implementation, teachers are unable to keep pace and fall further behind these scientific advancements. Teacher preparedness is a strong predictor of student success and motivation. Many professional development programs, however, do not focus on current scientific technologies and fail to provide a mechanism to implement new classroom activities that have real-world applications. As a result, teachers cannot introduce classroom laboratories that are congruent with emerging scientific technologies and techniques.
The program was introduced in 1990 by Bruce Wallace, a molecular biologist who was one of Amgen's first staff members. Passionate about science education, Bruce helped establish the biotechnology program in local schools and organized a lecture series for the community. It was his hope that every student, regardless of the profession they eventually pursued, would have the chance to experience the joy of discovery and the excitement of having science at his or her fingertips.
Today, the program is named in his memory and officially known as the Amgen-Bruce Wallace Biotechnology Lab Program.
The Amgen Foundation seeks to advance science education; improve patient access to quality care; and strengthen the communities where Amgen staff members live and work. Since 1991, the Foundation has made nearly $180 million in grants to nonprofit organizations across the United States, Puerto Rico and Europe that impact society in inspiring and innovative ways. It has also supported disaster relief efforts both domestically and internationally.