The Amgen Foundation allocated $2.5 million to the Amgen Biotech Experience, a program that provides real-world biotech lab experience to middle and high schools in U.S. and U.K. communities and will engage more than 50,000 students this year, according to the organization. Education Development Center, a nonprofit that creates learning opportunities around the world, will oversee the program’s implementation and facilitate its continued development.

Since 1990, the Amgen Biotech Experience said it has engaged more than 300,000 students in learning molecular biology using relevant curricula, tools, and techniques. The Amgen Foundation has committed nearly $8 million since the program’s inception.

“By providing cutting-edge scientific experience today, students can begin to develop capabilities to make a powerful impact on society tomorrow,” said Robert A. Bradway, chairman and CEO of Amgen. “The Amgen Biotech Experience, designed in collaboration with educators and Amgen scientists, provides a rigorous real-world experience that helps open students’ eyes to the world of biotechnology and scientific discovery.”

Additionally, this year the Amgen Foundation said it will give more than $2.5 million in grants to community colleges, universities, and nonprofit organizations that lead and support the Amgen Biotech Experience in different regions across the country where Amgen has a presence. The program is planned to be introduced in Washington, D.C., in 2014.

Utilizing Nobel Prize-winning discoveries to prepare a recombinant DNA molecule that carries a gene for red fluorescent protein, the foundation said students follow many of the steps biotechnology researchers use to produce medicines.

“Several students have even told me they want to pursue a major in biology after they finish the course,” said Amy Welch, a biology teacher at Brea Olinda High School in Brea, CA. “As a teacher, my knowledge of biotechnology lab techniques has increased immensely since I first implemented the program and I feel that I am providing my students with skills that make them strong scientific thinkers.”

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