Arlington, VA (September 16, 2010) – Biotechnology industry leaders announced today a major new program to improve the quality of U.S. life science education. The Biotechnology Institute’s new “Scientists in the Classroom” initiative is the life science industry’s response to President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign to improve the performance of America’s students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The announcement came as life science industry executives participated in a White House event announcing the creation of the new broad education coalition called “Change the Equation” comprised of CEOs from across a broad spectrum of industries.
“Our success as a nation depends on strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of discovery and innovation,” said President Obama. “I applaud the Biotechnology Institute and its partners for lending their resources, expertise, and their enthusiasm to the task of strengthening America’s leadership in the 21st century by improving education in science, technology, engineering and math.”
The “Scientists in the Classroom” initiative will train and deploy scientists from 40 companies in high-impact collaborations with teachers and students on laboratory projects in high schools. The program will be launched in communities this fall in 10 states, including California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, reaching a run-rate of 1,000 life scientists assisting in schools. Ultimately, the initiative seeks to inspire 250,000 high school students in all fifty states in the next five years.
Today’s announcement formally launches the Institute’s fundraising campaign to support the initiative with a goal of raising at least $10 million in cash and in-kind contributions over the next two years.
The campaign already has received the support of several leading companies including sanofi-aventis and other Founding Members including Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Acorda Therapeutics, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Sangamo BioSciences, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. In addition to their support as Founding Members of the campaign, scientists from these companies will collaborate with high school teachers and students over the coming months to develop life science-focused projects aimed at stimulating students’ interests in scientific careers.
“The life science industry is dependent upon a continuing stream of scientific talent to meet our nation’s future needs for improving human health,” said Damian A. Braga, president, Sanofi Pasteur US, the vaccines division of sanofi-aventis. “We have a history of helping to build teachers’ capacity to teach science and to generate excitement in the classroom. We are enthusiastic about partnering with our colleagues in the life science industry in order to expand these efforts.”
“The United States is the global leader in biotechnology innovation. Our industry creates high-wage jobs while developing breakthrough technologies that help heal the sick, feed the hungry, and restore the environment,’ said Paul A. Hanle, president of the Biotechnology Institute. “The ability of the United States to continue to lead in the global biotechnology marketplace depends on developing new talent. We are proud to respond to President Obama’s call for public-private partnerships and community volunteers to reach and inspire students. Our industry is committed to engaging and supporting students who want to become the science leaders and innovators of the next generation.”
The “Scientists in the Classroom” program will engage life science companies to advance life science education both at the national level and in their communities. Institute Scholars will recruit company scientists to assist high school biology teachers in the classroom and serve as role models to students, and mentors to teachers as they present state-of-the-art labs, lessons, and activities developed by the Institute. In addition, the program will match finalists from the Institute’s prestigious annual sanofi-aventis International BioGENEius Challenge, a life sciences research competition for high school students, with scientists who can encourage them to advance their research projects to better compete for top prizes and academic honors.
An interactive web portal will match scientists and teachers from around the nation and facilitate the exchange of classroom content such as lesson plans, activities, video, and animation. Monthly interactive webcasts will feature scientists as expert commentators and information providers.
The “Scientists in the Classroom” Initiative also will recognize the major contributions to science education already undertaken by participating companies in their communities, such as student and teacher internship programs, professional development programs for teachers, and funding support and materials for classrooms. These “Related Contributions” to science education will be featured on the Biotechnology Institute’s website.
The programs will be executed over five years in order to gain traction within school districts, develop brand recognition, and produce measureable results.
About the Biotechnology Institute
The Biotechnology Institute is an independent, national nonprofit organization dedicated to education about the present and future impact of biotechnology. Its mission is to engage, excite and educate the public, particularly students and teachers, about biotechnology and its immense potential for solving human health, food and environmental problems. For more information, visit www.biotechinstitute.org.
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