Improving lives through invention

MIT and Biogen Launch New Virtual Learning Lab for High School Students Historically Underrepresented in STEM

Online learning program combines lab simulations and mentoring experiences focused on biotechnology and neurological diseases.

Cambridge, Mass., May 28, 2020 – Today the Lemelson-MIT Program (LMIT) announced the launch of Biogen-MIT Biotech in Action: Virtual Summer Lab — a new online learning lab for high school students underrepresented in STEM. The collaboration pairs Biogen’s established Community Lab science learning program with LMIT’s 25 years of experience preparing students to be the next generation of creative and inventive problem solvers. The summer virtual lab will offer 400 Massachusetts and North Carolina high school students from backgrounds underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), the opportunity to learn directly from, and be mentored by, leading scientists at Biogen and MIT.

The five sessions of the week-long online summer program will teach students about biotechnology, and the unique ways neuroscientists and inventors use STEM knowledge to solve problems that matter. These problems include diseases of the brain like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis and ALS.

“Lemelson-MIT research has validated our beliefs about the importance of teaching STEM through hands-on real-world projects and opportunities to engage with STEM professionals and other adults.” said Michael Cima, Lemelson-MIT Program faculty director and associate dean of innovation for MIT’s School of Engineering. “We also know that hands-on doesn’t have to mean in-person, and mentoring can happen effectively using web-based collaboration tools. We are excited to join forces with Biogen and their unique expertise, combined with ours, to help another generation of students discover their passion for invention in biotechnology and neuroscience.”

“Today, more than ever, we need to encourage, support and inspire young people to better understand and appreciate the link between biotechnology and health outcomes, hopefully igniting curiosity and a spark to learn more,” said Al Sandrock, Executive Vice President, Research and Development, Biogen. “While we have always believed that science can be done anywhere, the current public health crisis has pushed us all to consider new ways of learning and to think differently about how we collaborate with others. Lemelson-MIT is allowing us to enrich our program so we can continue to foster an appreciation for science, and reinforce the point that science is accessible, even if you’re not physically in a lab.”

Admission to the summer program is free for high school students in grades 9 to 12, with preference given to underrepresented students in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts and in Wake and Durham counties, North Carolina. Students are also recruited from several Biogen Foundation grant recipient programs, including the STAR Initiative, a program the Biogen Foundation launched in 2018 to help catalyze the development of local STEM ecosystems in Cambridge and Somerville, MA.

For 18 years, Biogen’s Community Lab program has been focused on exciting more young people about science and inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders. Students gain a deeper interest in health sciences, biotechnology, invention, and innovation, and expand their knowledge and laboratory skills in STEM. The Community Lab has physical locations in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina, and has served more than 55,000 students to date.

For 25 years, the Lemelson-MIT Program has been committed to inspiring the next generation of creative and inventive problem solvers. The program continues to work with K12 students across the U.S. and to recognize emerging collegiate inventors whose inventions could impact important sectors of the economy with cash prizes.

For more information on the Biogen-MIT Biotech in Action: Virtual Summer Lab, visit

About the Lemelson-MIT Program
The Lemelson-MIT Program celebrates outstanding inventors and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention. Jerome H. Lemelson, one of U.S. history’s most prolific inventors, and his wife Dorothy founded the Lemelson-MIT Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. It is funded by The Lemelson Foundation and administered by the School of Engineering at MIT, an institution with a strong ongoing commitment to creating meaningful opportunities for K-12 STEM education. For more information, visit

About Biogen
At Biogen, our mission is clear: we are pioneers in neuroscience. Biogen discovers, develops and delivers worldwide innovative therapies for people living with serious neurological and neurodegenerative diseases as well as related therapeutic adjacencies. One of the world’s first global biotechnology companies, Biogen was founded in 1978 by Charles Weissmann, Heinz Schaller, Kenneth Murray and Nobel Prize winners Walter Gilbert and Phillip Sharp. Today Biogen has the leading portfolio of medicines to treat multiple sclerosis, has introduced the first approved treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, commercializes biosimilars of advanced biologics and is focused on advancing research programs in multiple sclerosis and neuroimmunology, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, neuromuscular disorders, movement disorders, ophthalmology, immunology, neurocognitive disorders, acute neurology and pain.

About the Biogen Community Lab
The Biogen Community Lab program is a signature example of the company’s commitment to science education. The mission of the Lab is to excite more young people about science and inspire the next generation of STEM leaders. With locations at Biogen’s world headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts and in Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina, the Community Lab is a state-of-the-art laboratory classroom where local middle and high school students engage in hands-on biotechnology experiments and interact with scientists and other biotech professionals. It offers free daylong, interactive science activities, rigorous summer programs, and teacher professional development. The Cambridge facility started in 2002 and is the longest-running, hands-on corporate science lab in the nation. The Community Lab in North Carolina opened in 2014. Collectively, the Labs have served more than 55,000 students to date.

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