Partners for Progress: Amgen & URI

In January of 2014, Amgen Rhode Island signed a partnership agreement with the University of Rhode Island to formalize their “strong, mutually beneficial working relationship.” In the agreement, Amgen and URI acknowledged their collaboration on workforce development and training, research and development, and to work as advocates for one another with policy makers. Amgen also agreed to regularly hire URI interns, growing its URI employee base, and the University has committed to help train and educate Amgen employees in OSHA training, energy management plans, Haz-Mat-based training, cyber security training, and cross cultural training. Additionally, the University and Amgen will collaborate for the College of Engineering capstone design program, in which students help to provide solutions for the company’s day-to-day-operations.

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President David M. Dooley, Kimball Hall (former general manager of Amgen West Greenwich), and members of RI government cut the ribbon at the opening of the Amgen BioLabs in 2010.

This mutually beneficial agreement cements a long-standing relationship between the company and the University. Amgen, a global biotechnology pioneer, discovers, develops and delivers innovative human therapeutics. Amgen’s products have helped millions of patients in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis and other serious illnesses. The Amgen Corporation, along with its foundation, has been a leading partner of the University for over 20 years, and has provided a wide range of vital support for biotechnology research and education, expanding opportunities for students and faculty.

In addition to partnering with URI on a number of important initiatives, Amgen has also contributed financially to URI, with nearly $2M in contributions , supporting programs across the University. Their most recent gift was a two-year grant for $174,000 to implement the Amgen Biotech Experience: an innovative science education program that provides a real-world biotech lab experience to 50 middle schools and high schools in Rhode Island. Since 2007 in Rhode Island, the Amgen Biotech Experience (formerly known as the Amgen-Bruce Wallace Biotechnology Lab Program) has introduced more than 8,000 students in secondary school classrooms to contemporary science techniques, including comprehensive teacher training. Teachers are given a robust, hands-on, inquiry-based biology curriculum, in addition to a full suite of transportable, research-grade equipment and supplies, at no cost to the participating schools. “Through the support of the Amgen Foundation, the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at URI is excited to continue bringing the Amgen Biotech Experience to classrooms in our community,” said Gregory Paquette, director of the URI Providence Biotechnology Center, in November. “The students and teachers who participate in this program are given the tools and resources to bring science to life and inspire students to want to learn more about biotechnology.”

In 2010, the University recognized Amgen’s longtime support by dedicating the state-of-the-art teaching laboratories in its Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences. The company took an early interest in the expansion of biotechnology education at URI. It provided guidance as the University developed the curricula for a Biotechnology Manufacturing Program and later donated equipment and provided financial support to establish a biotechnology manufacturing laboratory at the URI Feinstein Providence Campus.

“Amgen is committed to enhancing science education in our community,” said Kimball Hall, Vice President of Amgen’s Rhode Island Operations, in the announcement of the lab dedication. “These learning laboratories are absolutely essential for the next generation of scientists to train on the latest techniques and processes that will result in improved quality of life for millions of people. We are delighted that URI is taking a lead in teaching biological sciences, and we are thrilled to be able to provide resources for these laboratories.”

Today, the company hires over 100 URI alums and Amgen executives serve on advisory boards for both the College of Engineering and the College of Pharmacy, helping to play an active role in advancing the University and industry.