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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Amgen inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders

Health Industry Hub | March 2, 2023 |

Pharma News: While most university students are just gearing up for the start of the new semester, a group of talented undergraduates have gathered at the University of Melbourne to present impressive research conducted over the summer break.

These 22 aspiring scientists from across Australia and New Zealand have spent the last eight weeks participating in the prestigious Amgen Scholars Program that opens doors to some of the world’s premier research institutions, allows students to conduct research projects under top faculty, and provides dedicated seminars and networking events for the next generation of STEM leaders.

In Australia, only 15% of the STEM qualified workforce are women despite the broader workforce having close to 50% female participation. According to Monash University, women are also underrepresented in STEM leadership roles with women making up approximately 17% of senior scientists in Australia.

Culminating in a symposium at Melbourne Connect where students shared their research with experts from industry and academia, the program has delivered unique learning opportunities for young innovators committed to pursuing careers in science or engineering.

Reflecting on their experience as part of the 2023 Amgen Scholars cohort, Helen Ou, who worked in a lab exploring peripheral interfaces and neuromodulation, said “The Amgen Scholars program has been a really eye-opening experience for me. Through my time in the program, I learnt many laboratory and research skills, developed invaluable soft skills for a career in science, and was able to explore my passions and interests on a level that I cannot otherwise obtain as an undergraduate. I highly encourage anyone considering a career in research to apply.”

Now in its third year in Australia, the Amgen Scholars Program is made possible through a close relationship between the Amgen Foundation and the University of Melbourne, the only institution in Australia that offers this program.

Mark Hargreaves, pro vice-chancellor (Research Partnerships & Infrastructure) at the University of Melbourne, said “The Amgen Scholars Program offers students unparalleled opportunities to learn and collaborate in research settings.

“This year our Scholars explored fields such as biotechnology, biomedical engineering, neuroscience, and veterinary science and were fortunate to engage with experts from the University and Melbourne’s world-class biomedical precinct. I extend my thanks to all those who guided the Scholars on their journey and to the staff at the host laboratories and at Queen’s College for their dedication and support. We look forward to continuing our association with the Amgen Foundation and this outstanding program.”

Sienna Clarke, a member of the 2023 Amgen Scholars cohort, said “I enjoyed my experience in the ASP immensely. Over the last two months I was welcomed into the X-lab group and learned what working in experimental physics research is really like. A highlight of my project was working with the Pelletron particle accelerator in the basement of the Physics Building. It was a once in a lifetime experience and a lot of fun to use such a large machine to do some useful research.”

Gabi Mittas, managing director of Amgen Australia and New Zealand, commented on the company’s commitment is to inspire the next generation of scientists and problem solvers, wherever they are.

She said “That’s why the Amgen Foundation, the principal channel for Amgen’s corporate philanthropy, makes programs like Amgen Scholars available free of charge, helping ensure that location and financial status are not barriers to high-quality science education.”

The University of Melbourne was awarded a grant from the Amgen Foundation in 2018, becoming one of 24 elite institutions around the world to be an Amgen Scholars partner, and making the program more accessible to students from Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania.

Students who’ve completed the second year of an equivalent Australian science undergraduate degree are eligible to apply for the program, which incorporates eight-weeks accommodation during the research project. There are typically 15 places available each year, with the larger cohort in 2023 including students from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, and New Zealand.

The Amgen Scholars Program is an integral part of the Amgen Foundation’s work to broaden access to engaging and inspiring science education programs that provide future generations with skills to thrive in an increasingly complex world. Since its inception in 2006, the Amgen Scholars Program has made research opportunities at leading institutions possible for more than 4,800 undergraduate students.

Ms Mittas added “I thank the team at the University of Melbourne for their outstanding stewardship of the program and congratulate the 2023 Amgen Scholars on their achievements. I hope this experience empowers them to continue their studies and to become the kind of diverse thinkers we need to solve the world’s greatest challenges.”

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