Aspiring scientists can get free lab access online thanks to a science education platform being developed by the Amgen Foundation and Harvard University. Called LabXchange, it will launch next year with a focus on biology and offer digital instruction and virtual lab experiences, as well as opportunities for collaborating and mentoring, to high school and college students.
“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 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 founding sponsor, Amgen has awarded $6.5 million in grant funding to Harvard to develop, launch, and grow LabXchange. Amgen will be engaged throughout the development, and its scientists with industry experience will play key advisory roles.
Potential users will test prototypes this summer, and LabXchange is expected to launch globally next year.
“Advances in technology are not only having an incredible impact on how we develop and deliver innovative medicines to patients, but also on 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.”
LabXchange builds on other Amgen projects that support science education, such as the Amgen Biotech Experience, which has reached more than 600,000 high school students, and the Amgen Scholars Program.
LabXchange will be built on the edX platform, the largest online learning platform in the world, with more than 35 million users globally.
“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 and insights into the most effective content and forms of interactivity. For more information, visit www.LabXchange.org and follow @LabXchange on Twitter.