Teacher recognition awards for bringing Amgen Biotech Experience into the classroom

May 10, 2017

Two teachers from secondary schools in Dublin and Donegal have received teacher recognition awards at a ceremony in University College Dublin on Thursday, 4th May for their involvement in a science education initiative, the Amgen Biotech Experience. 


Hilary Rimbi from St Andrew's College in Blackrock, Co Dublin and Yvonne Higgins from Magh Ēne College in Bundoran, Co. Donegal were recognised for their commitment to inspire students about science by delivering a hands-on experience in working with DNA and molecular biology techniques.


Pictured left-right at the ABE Ireland Teacher Recognition event in University College Dublin: Rayne Waller, Vice President of Regional Manufacturing and Site Head at Amgen Dun Laoghaire; Hilary Rimbi, St Andrew's College, Blackrock, Co Dublin; Professor Walter Kolch, Director, Systems Biology Ireland; Dr Niamh O’Sullivan, UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science and UCD Conway Institute.


Announcing the winners, Professor Walter Kolch, Director of Systems Biology Ireland in University College Dublin said,

“This evening is about acknowledging the effort that every teacher involved in the programme has made to bring the excitement of scientific discovery into their classroom. In particular, Hilary Rimbi and Yvonne Higgins have enthusiastically embraced this opportunity to learn about the molecular techniques that are an integral part of our daily working lives as scientists and fundamental to producing drug therapies in the pharmaceutical industry.”


The Amgen Biotech Experience (ABE) is an international programme that trains teachers in laboratory experiments using professional grade equipment. Teachers can borrow equipment and consumables free of charge to carry out the experiments in their classrooms during the school year. The programme is funded by the Amgen Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Amgen Inc., one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies.


Presenting the awards, Rayne Waller, Vice President of Regional Manufacturing and Site Head at Amgen Dun Laoghaire said,

“The Amgen Foundation is committed to fostering the scientific potential of a new generation. The Amgen Biotech Experience programme is designed to provide teachers with impactful training, resources and materials to deliver a high-quality experience to their students, inspiring them to pursue further education, and possibly even a career, in science.”


Commenting on her award by video link, Yvonne Higgins said, “It has been a wonderful opportunity for my students…really opening up the world of biotechnology to them and offering them an experience they would never have had otherwise. It is probably the best organised and best run programme with regards to promoting science in the classroom.”


Video: Yvonne Higgins, Magh Ēne College, Bundoran, Co. Donegal receives the ABE Ireland teacher recognition award


All teachers who had participated in the ABE programme in Ireland as well as their schools' principals had been invited to attend the ABE Teacher recognition event. The event started with a lecture by Dr Niamh O’Sullivan, UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science and UCD Conway Institute, entitled "Do my genes define me?". After the award ceremony,  a dinner was held in the adjacent Kevin Barry Foyer. Boxes of chocolates were gifted to the attending teachers, as a thank you for their efforts in bringing the Amgen Biotech Experience into their schools' classroms.


In Ireland, the ABE programme is coordinated by Systems Biology Ireland, University College Dublin, in partnership with the Biomedical Diagnostic Institute, Dublin City University. Since September 2014, 150 teachers, 113 schools and more than 7800 students have participated in the ABE Ireland programme.  


For further information contact Elaine Quinn, Communications, UCD Conway Institute, t: +353 +1 716 6706, m: +353 +87 2343 785, e: elaine.quinn@ucd.ie


ABE Ireland teachers and principals in attendance from:
Athboy Community School|Avondale Community College|Ballinteer Community School| Blackrock College| Caritas College| Creagh College| Dominican College Griffith Avenue| Dublin Tutorial Centre| Dún Laoghaire Further Education Institute| Holy Child Killiney

Le Cheile Secondary School| Newpark Comprehensive School| Our Lady's School | Plunket College| Portlaoise College| Rockford Manor School | St Andrew’s College| St. Davids Holy Faith| St. Declan's College| St. Joseph's College| St. Josephs Secondary School| St. Mary's Holy Faith Secondary School| St. Peter's College, Dunboyne| St. Raphaela's Secondary School | Temple Carrig School| The Teresian School

The Amgen Biotech Experience (https://www.amgenbiotechexperience.com/) is an innovative science education programme that provides teacher professional development, teaching materials, and research-grade equipment and supplies to secondary schools. The programme features a hands-on molecular biology curriculum that introduces students to the excitement of scientific discovery. Each year, over 75,000 students and hundreds of science teachers around the world participate and have the opportunity to explore the methods scientists use to create biotechnology medicines.

The Amgen Biotech Experience Ireland (https://www.abeireland.com/) site was funded under an initial award of $123,133 (€90,530.00) to Systems Biology Ireland (SBI) at University College Dublin and the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute (BDI) at Dublin City University in May 2014. Both research centres have strong track records in delivering science education and engagement initiatives for a variety of audiences. UCD Conway Institute, the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research & Training, the Irish Science teachers Association and the Professional Development Service for Teachers are partners in this initiative.

The UCD Conway Institute is an interdisciplinary research centre exploring the fundamental mechanisms that underlie major chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cancer, vascular diseases, and neurodegeneration. The ultimate aim of this research is to translate new knowledge in these disease areas for the benefit of patients through developing the next generation of diagnostics, therapeutics and medical devices. Basic discovery research is the driver of innovation and eventual commercial application. In order to deliver on its mission, Conway researchers place emphasis on excellence in basic research, while developing the culture and tools that promote innovation. The close collaboration between Conway researchers, clinicians and industry partners facilitates the translation of basic research into the clinical and industry settings.  

UCD Conway Institute was established on the Belfield campus of University College Dublin (UCD) in September 2003. Professor William Gallagher was appointed to the directorship of the Institute in April 2016. The 11,200m­2 facility accommodates a total of 450 researchers including postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows. www.ucd.ie/conway

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