Meet the Amgen Scholars of 2015

Nov 10, 2015 8:30 AM ET

When most undergrads think back on ‘summer vacations’, they may associate them with sleeping in late, heading to the beach and spending free time watching Netflix.

But, there are some students who want to use those summers to do something more. For this select group, summers are an opportunity to network with globally renowned research scientists, experience new countries and cultures, and maybe, just maybe, participate in a research experience that helps find the cure for cancer or Alzheimer’s! We call them the Amgen Scholars.

In 2015 alone, more than 5,000 students applied to the Amgen Scholars program, which gives undergraduates in the U.S., Europe and Japan the chance to conduct hands-on research under leading researchers and scientists. The program is held every summer across 17 research institutions around the globe (including MIT, Stanford University, the NIH and Cambridge University - just to name a few!)

Of those 5,000 applications, less than 300 students were selected in 2015 to participate - 213 students in the U.S., 101 students in Europe and 40 in Japan. Many of the applicants had biology, biochemistry or biomedical engineering as their major. Here’s a closer look at a few of the 2015 Amgen Scholars, and what they had to say about their 2015 summer ‘break’:

What’s the larger significance of your Amgen Scholars research? What’s your ultimate career goal?

Angela: “There are a variety of projects that are in progress in Dr. Macklis’ neuroscience lab at Harvard University. The fundamental idea is that in order to better approach complicated neurodegenerative diseases, such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, we must understand the development of neurons and the genes responsible for them. I would ultimately like to be a physician-scientist in the field of pediatric neurology/neurosurgery.”

Jenny: “Conducting research at The University of Tokyo as an Amgen Scholar has had a tremendous impact on my future. Not only did I learn many laboratory and research techniques that I will use in the future, but more specific to my laboratory experience, I was able to gain a holistic perspective of how biological research can directly improve patients' lives.”

Alexandra: “For my Amgen Scholar’s project I studied the loss of heterozygosity in C. albicans. This process is one of the prerequisites for cancer development in humans, hence understanding of this mechanism is very important. I would like to pursue a Ph.D., however, since I am interested in several fields, I don’t know yet which one I’ll choose to focus on. ”

What aspects of the program did you enjoy most this summer?

Angela: “It’s amazing to be in a program where everyone is passionate about science and research, but they are all so unique in their interests and research focuses. The friendships that I have made this summer are ones that will last throughout my life.”

Jenny: “Besides the lab environment and fascinating research I conducted, I also enjoyed getting to know the other scholars and having adventures together in Japan. Simply hopping on a train after work and seeing where the night takes us and wandering through both the bright and loud, and dim and peaceful parts of Tokyo have been some of the most memorable moments this summer.”

Alexandra: “My supervisor and all of the people in lab were always helpful and kind to me, and I am really grateful for the knowledge and the experience that they provided to me over the summer. I especially liked that I had opportunity to plan and execute my experiments independently. Last but not least, I liked the location of the program. Since childhood, one of my dreams was to visit Paris, and now this dream has come true.”

You can check out more Amgen Scholar alumni stories here. If you know someone who would make a great fit for the program, check out the following links to find out more about applying for the 2016 program in the U.S., Europe and Japan!