Creating Tomorrow’s Scientists

Students working in lab

Hundreds of middle-school students will receive substantially reduced tuition to an NC State science education program, thanks to a generous donation from the Biogen Idec Foundation.

The foundation’s $300,000 gift will support Imhotep Academy by covering 87 percent of the program’s tuition for about 600 of the academy’s middle-school students over the next three years. Students who receive the tuition award will be known as Biogen Idec Foundation Scholars.

Imhotep Academy is part of The Science House, NC State’s K–12 science education and outreach program. The academy was founded in 1992 to encourage African American students to pursue math and science, celebrate their heritage, and equip them with the skills to become the next great scientists. Since then, the academy has expanded its focus to include women as well as all groups underrepresented in the sciences.

Today, the program introduces middle-school students to the exciting world of science through laboratory experiments, research projects and field trips.

“These are all bright students,” said Dr. Pamela Gilchrist, the academy’s director. “And our focus is to inspire students and provide them with a competitive edge in the global workforce.”

Biogen Idec is a global biotechnology company that produces medicine to treat neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune disorders and conditions that affect the blood. The company is based in Cambridge, Mass., and has substantial operations in the Triangle. The Biogen Idec Foundation was established in 2002 to improve the quality of life in communities in which the company operates, as well as emphasize various ways to encourage youth to pursue careers in the STEM fields.

“We at the Biogen Idec Foundation want to help more North Carolina students write their own stories of scientific discovery and success,” said Machelle Sanders, a trustee of the Biogen Idec Foundation and a 1987 NC State biochemistry alumna.

Through this gift, Sanders continued, the company hopes to help diversify the STEM community and inspire young learners.

“We want children to know that science is for everyone,” Sanders said. “Kids from all backgrounds deserve to experience the ‘wow!’ moments in science and see how they can make a difference in the world.”