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Amgen Biotech Experience (ABE)

Scientific Discovery for the Classroom

ABE is an innovative science education program that helps teachers build bridges between school and the real-life biosciences. Teachers develop knowledge and confidence in cutting-edge biotechnology through blended professional learning, access to new technologies and concepts, curated classroom resources, and connections with industry experts, thought leaders, and other teachers like themselves.


Information on this page is provided by the innovator and has not been evaluated by HundrED.

Web presence






Target group
March 2021
ABE provides a robust and authentic hands-on experience for my students...I am extremely thankful for the resources, curriculum and teacher support which allow me to engage and inspire so many

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

The cutting-edge science found in industry is often far beyond what teachers have been trained in. In addition, the fast-paced and ever-changing landscape of molecular biology makes it difficult for teachers to implement this content in the classroom. ABE supports science by providing opportunities for teachers to understand advances in the field and bring this content to students.

What does your innovation look like in practice?

ABE provides teachers with curriculum, professional learning, and the loan of research-grade equipment to bring biotechnology learning to their students, all at no cost. ABE professional learning increases teachers’ capacity to implement ABE effectively, while growing their leadership capacity as science educators. To support ABE’s global teacher community, teacher learning resources are versatile: professional learning may be accessed online, in person, or in a blended package to expand reach and scale and allow greater flexibility in use. Through customizable blended learning modules, teachers gain an understanding of the structure, key concepts, and central lab techniques of the ABE curriculum; the content and skills in each lab; supports for student inquiry; and connections to cutting-edge technologies and discoveries, as well as access to a vibrant community of practice. Students gain an understanding of key biology concepts as well as real-world biotech applications and careers.

How has it been spreading?

From its humble beginnings, in which Amgen scientists worked with teachers to bring biotech to classrooms in their local area, the program has evolved into its current form: a thriving and dynamic international science education collaborative. ABE has served over 750,000 students and over 1,700 teachers to date; the program operates in 22 program sites across 13 countries, serving more than 1,500 teachers and 90,000 students each year. The ABE community develops and shares just-in-time learning resources as well as locally-developed materials and ideas, while ensuring they are accessible, high quality, and support learning outcomes. By design, ABE’s unique model builds a vibrant science education community of practice where teachers can learn from one another.

If I want to try it, what should I do?

ABE is available in select communities. Interested teachers can contact their local program site, and then register to attend a training, which is required before they can borrow the ABE equipment. However, all teachers have access to the ABE curriculum and resources on our website, as well as a set of relevant assets on LabXchange:

Implementation steps

ABE Curriculum and Resources

The ABE curriculum and resources are available to all teachers and students, though support for implementing the lab-based curriculum is limited to certain locations. You can view and explore all of our teaching and learning resources.

ABE Classroom-based Investigations

These investigations can be found on the ABE website.

Chasing Cystic Fibrosis (8–9 class sessions)

Students become engaged in learning about the disease cystic fibrosis (CF): they develop questions that they have about CF, its treatment, and its consequences, and then explore how they can transform their questions into scientific questions that can be investigated. Students also examine real data to determine how CF is inherited, experiment with osmosis to explore the disease’s possible mechanism of action, and investigate transcription and translation of CFTR exons.

Clinical Trials: From Disease to Medicine (8–10 class sessions)

In the From Disease to Medicine module, students learn about the purpose and structure of clinical research by exploring the various phases of a clinical trial. Students investigate the timeline of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, taking on the role of researchers who are developing a promising new H1N1 vaccine. Throughout the module, students engage in different hands-on activities such as:

  • Exploring the role of the placebo effect in clinical trials

  • Developing recruiting materials for participants for a mock study

  • Completing an application to begin a fictional clinical trial

The module asks students to consider the challenges of developing medicines and vaccines and the rigorous nature of the process. Students also explore how and why the design of clinical trials has evolved over time.

What Can We Learn from Extreme Phenotypes? (8–14 class sessions)

Students learn that genetics is more complex than the simple binary relationship it is often portrayed as having. They explore how extreme phenotypes can be used to inform our understanding of drug development and investigate some of the cutting edge techniques being used in biotechnology today, including genome wide association studies and CRISPR-Cas9.

You Becoming You (6–8 class sessions)

Students are introduced to the concept of genes that code for the traits that are expressed by organisms and examine the genetics of some familiar organisms.

ABE Web-based Investigations

ABE’s eLearning resources are designed to allow students to explore biotechnology content online in a self-paced fashion. Educators can use these resources to supplement or extend biotechnology content.

Bioethics of Gene Editing

Lyme disease is a pervasive problem in the United States. Kevin Esvelt, a scientist at MIT, is trying to use gene editing to disrupt the cycle of transmission. In this module, students learn about gene editing using the CRISPR process and consider the ethics of four case studies in which biotechnology is used to solve human problems. After learning about specific cases, students decide whether they agree or disagree with using gene editing to help solve a human problem and share their thoughts with their classmates.

Responding to a Mystery Illness

Teacher Guide (The Teacher Guide requires a password. Please contact with your name, school/organization, and location to obtain the password.)

Student Materials

This resource is based on real events, though the timeline and details may have been changed to allow it to be used for educational purposes. As part of an imaginary WHO team, students help determine which organism is causing a mysterious illness first described in China, try to halt its spread, and begin the work of developing a vaccine.

This course is also available on LabXchange using class code 537DF0 (you must have an account on the platform to access classes).

Saving a Life

A man drinks an unknown liquid and soon is found unresponsive in an emergency room. Students use bioinformatics tools to investigate what substance caused such a life-threatening response.

Using Bioinformatics to Track Down a Rare Cause of Diabetes

Many people are aware of the main two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. However, few people know that there are other types of diabetes. One type occurs in pregnant women (gestational diabetes), but there are others still. A rare type of diabetes is called maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY). MODY is frequently misdiagnosed as type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Different types of diabetes require different treatments, so determining the genetics of diabetes becomes important in developing and prescribing treatments.

In this module, students use bioinformatics to study a Norwegian family in which several members had MODY to better understand the causes of this rare genetic disorder and also to learn more about insulin.

Spread of the innovation

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