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


  • The online learning program combines lab simulations and mentoring experiences focused on biotechnology and neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis
  • Four hundred students from Massachusetts and North Carolina are enrolling in this no-fee program that also provides students with computers and other technology resources
  • The initiative builds upon Biogen’s Community Lab, which has enrolled more than 55,000 students to date, and the Lemelson-MIT Program in inspiring the next generation of creative and inventive problem solvers 

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 28, 2020 – Biogen Inc. (Nasdaq: BIIB) is bringing its well-recognized Community Lab science learning program together with the Lemelson-MIT Program (LMIT) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to launch the new online Biogen-MIT Biotech in Action: Virtual Summer Lab. This virtual lab will offer 400 Massachusetts and North Carolina high school students a first-hand experience in biotechnology and provide the opportunity to learn directly from, and be mentored by, leading scientists at Biogen and MIT. Most of the students are from low-income households and groups historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“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 Alfred Sandrock, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Research and Development at 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 Community Lab 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.”

“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’s Faculty Director and Associate Dean of Innovation for MIT 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.”

Admission to the summer program is free for high school students grades 9 to 12, with preference given to underrepresented students in Massachusetts and 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, Massachusetts.

In addition to the Biogen-MIT Biotech in Action: Virtual Summer Lab, Biogen has worked with many leading institutions to bring scientific content and engaging experiences to students through an online hub called the Virtual Community Lab. Here students, parents and teachers can access and experience free online resources, including tutorial videos of science experiments that can be done at home, plus other educational materials. Regardless of location, anyone can explore STEM topics and participate in these activities.

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, 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 within MIT has been committed to inspiring the next generation of creative and inventive problem solvers. The program continues to recognize emerging collegiate inventors whose inventions could impact important sectors of the global economy with cash prizes.

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