Amgen turned 35 this year. To help celebrate nearly four-decades of transformative science and biotechnology, and as a way of sharing highlights and milestones from Amgen’s storied past, RFI and Amgen partnered to create AmgenHistory.com. We selected a few of our favorite (and most surprising) Amgen moments here.
1. Before Amgen was Amgen, it was AMGen
Back in 1980 AMGen (Applied Molecular Genetics Inc.) was established in Thousand Oaks, California. Three years later the company would rethink those capital letters, and officially change its name to Amgen.
2. Amgen scientists cloned the light source for fireflies
Before they started treating and curing diseases, some of Amgen's earliest experiments included growing chickens faster, cloning the light source for firelfies, and creating a process for producing indigo dye in E. coli.
3. Amgen's first CEO was dubbed "Mr. Biotech"
Amgen's first CEO, George B. Rathmann, was dubbed "Mr. Biotech" by Red Herring Magazine. Celebrated as one of the great geniuses of high-tech entrepreneurialism, Rathmann began his tenure at AMGen working out of a small trailer to free up space for scientists.
4. Amgen scientists looked through 1.5 million fragments to find and clone the erythropoietin gene
A team led by a young researcher from Taiwan named Fu-Kuen Lin was tasked with finding and cloning the erythropoietin gene. Their job was staggering: finding a gene on a single fragment of DNA among 1.5 million fragments of the human genome. After working tirelessly for two years, they did it. Their groundbreaking achievement would enable the creation of one of the most successful drugs in biotech history, EPOGEN (epoetin alfa).
5. Amgen in space!
In 2001, Amgen and NASA teamed up to study Amgen's investigational treatment, osteoprotegerin (OPG), on the space shuttle Endeavour. The experiment mimicked the effects of the rapid bone loss that astronauts experience due to microgravity.