National Medal of Technology and Innovation
For its leadership in developing innovative and important commercial therapeutics based on advances in cellular and molecular biology for delivery to critically ill patients throughout the world.
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Country of OriginUSA
Awarded byBill Clinton
Areas of ImpactHealth & Medicine
In the 1980s, biotechnology represented a new frontier in science. The industry’s first company, Cetus Corporation, struggled with poor management – a move that motivated William Bowes to leave the board and form his own company, Applied Molecular Genetics.
In 1980, AMGEN had three employees – among them, UCLA scientist Winston Salser.
After raising $200,000 from six venture capitalists, Bowes hired George Rathmann from Abbott Laboratories to head the new company.
By 1983, AMGEN had raised an IPO of $42.3 million and employed 185 people at its California headquarters.
One of its earliest accomplishments, scientists at AMGEN – using ovarian cells from a Chinese hamster – isolated and cloned a gene that stimulates red blood cell production. In 1989, the company began selling the substance as Epogen, used to treat anemia.
Soon after, the company introduced Neupogen, a drug that stimulates white blood cell production in those receiving chemotherapy or suffering from cancer and infection.