The Amgen Foundation and Harvard University today announced plans to launch a free online science education platform uniquely designed to level the playing field for aspiring scientists. The LabXchange platform, which will launch with a focus in biology, will offer digital instruction and virtual lab experiences to high school and college students, enabling them to gain meaningful exposure to the scientific process. It will also include online networking focused on collaboration and mentoring.
“There are many millions of students who, as a result of economic or geographic limitations, simply do not have access to one of the most central aspects of being a scientist, which is working in a laboratory,” said Professor Robert Lue, principal investigator of LabXchange and professor of the Practice of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard. “LabXchange addresses this issue with a platform that integrates dynamic experimental simulations with background curriculum and social networking — all created to more effectively expose students of varying backgrounds to the authentic and engaging experience of scientific discovery.”
As the founding sponsor, the Amgen Foundation has awarded $6.5 million in grant funding to Harvard University to develop, launch and grow the LabXchange platform for teachers and students globally. The Amgen Foundation will be engaged throughout the development of LabXchange, and Amgen scientists with industry experience will play key advisory roles to enhance the impact of the platform. LabXchange will be building prototypes and testing them with potential users beginning in the summer of 2018, and is expected to launch globally in 2019.
“Advances in technology are not only having an incredible impact on how we develop and deliver innovative medicines to patients, but also in how we educate and inspire the next generation of scientists,” said Robert A. Bradway, chairman and chief executive officer at Amgen. “By joining forces with Harvard, LabXchange’s interactive educational platform will give students studying biology around the world access to a unique virtual lab experience for free, dramatically expanding the Amgen Foundation’s reach in science education.”
For nearly three decades, the Amgen Foundation has supported science education in meaningful ways to inspire students around the world. The Amgen Biotech Experience has reached more than 600,000 high school students by empowering teachers to bring a biotechnology curriculum into their classrooms. The Amgen Scholars Program has reached thousands of undergraduate students, enabling them to participate in diverse, cutting-edge research opportunities at world-class institutions. As a free online platform focused on the lab experience, LabXchange will strengthen the breadth and depth of what the Amgen Foundation already offers to high school and college students.
LabXchange will be built on the edX platform, which is presently used by over 35 million learners globally. The combination of high-quality content with the sharing capabilities of social networking will allow LabXchange to integrate knowledge-based preparation for lab research with the benefits of human-based mentoring and sharing. EdX, as the largest online learning platform in the world, is uniquely positioned to join with Harvard and the Amgen Foundation to address this need.
“EdX is delighted to be a part of this groundbreaking initiative, which aligns completely with edX’s mission to increase access to high-quality education for all learners, everywhere,” said Anant Agarwal, chief executive officer at edX. “Working with Harvard and the Amgen Foundation will allow us to develop a platform that not only creates positive outcomes for learners looking to engage in the field of scientific research, but expands innovative online learning experiences that are flexible, personalized and adaptive on a global scale.”
LabXchange is inviting collaboration with high school teachers and undergraduate research mentors to provide feedback on prototypes, together with insights into the most effective content and forms of interactivity.