Biogen backs student biotech showcase

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Seven Australian youth science ambassadors will present their own biotechnology projects as part of the World Biotech Tour stop at Scitech in Western Australia.

The World Biotech Tour (WBT) is an international initiative of the US-based Association of Science-Technology Centres (ASTC), with the support of the Biogen Foundation. Its aim is to increase the impact and visibility of biotechnology among youth and the general public through hands-on and discussion-led learning opportunities. 

Scitech has been selected as one of only four international science centres to host the WBT in 2016, the first time the tour will be visiting Australia. It is expected to bring together students, teachers, researchers, industry and the general public to demonstrate the relevance and excitement of biotechnology in Western Australia.

In Perth, the tour takes place during National Science Week (13-19 August), kicking off at Perth Science Festival at Perth Cultural Centre (13-14 August).

The flagship initiative of the WBT is the Ambassador program, where seven secondary school students are mentored by current post-graduates from the University of Western Australia, Edith Cowan University, research associates at the Lions Eye Institute, industry professionals from Curtin University and Biogen employees.

Students are selected to present their own biotechnology research project, with one Australian ambassador selected to represent Scitech at the concluding Science Centre World Summit in Japan, 2017. 

According to Joerg Hermans, managing director of Biogen Australia and New Zealand, “As a leader in the biotech industry and STEM education arenas, Biogen is proud to invest in the Australian biotech industry through initiatives like the World Biotech Tour that aim to engage and inspire the next generation of Australian scientists.

“Biogen’s core ethos is about improving the quality of people’s lives, whether that be through innovative medicines or enriching young people’s lives through initiatives like the World Biotech Tour and Ambassador programs. Science is our passion, so we’re passionate about spreading that enthusiasm and curiosity in STEM to the next generation.

“These seven young ambassadors have demonstrated outstanding ideas and talent through their research projects, exploring topics ranging from the effects of multiple sclerosis on the body to new RNA binding proteins. These presentations showcase the diverse applications of biotechnology.”

Mr Hermans said biotechnology is one of the most exciting areas to be operating in as an organisation in Australia, where there is a clear focus on innovative medicines and research, with the Turnbull government officially launching the Biomedical Translation Fund investment as a major element of its National Innovation Agenda.

“Now, more than ever, Australia has the opportunity to continue building an environment primed for developing tomorrow’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workforce. Our hope is that the World Biotech Tour will expose young people to the fun and excitement of biotechnology and inspire them to consider careers in the field,” he added.