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Amgen Celebrates 35 Years

Thirty-five years ago – April 8, 1980 – AMGen (Applied Molecular Genetics Inc.) was born. Amgen started out small with a staff of three in a shared space in Thousand Oaks, California, but with a big dream – to use the emerging tools of biotechnology to make a meaningful difference.

In the first three years, scientists attempted many things: creating organisms to extract oil from shale, growing chickens faster, making specialty chemicals, cloning luciferase (the light source for fireflies), and a process for producing indigo dye in E. coli - an achievement which garnered the cover of Science magazine. In the end, Amgen would dedicate its efforts to treating and curing disease – to serving patients.

Setting out on a course for success

Lightning struck twice in the early days at Amgen. A young researcher from Taiwan named Fu-Kuen Lin led a team tasked with finding and cloning the erythropoietin gene -- a gene on a single fragment of DNA from among 1.5 million fragments of the human genome. After working tirelessly for two years, in 1983 they did it. This groundbreaking achievement enabled the creation of one of the most successful drugs in biotech history, EPOGEN® (epoetin alfa). Just two years later, researcher Larry Souza and his team cloned granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), leading to the development of Amgen’s second blockbuster drug, NEUPOGEN® (filgrastim).

On the way to reaching our full potential

Since then, Amgen has grown into one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies with more than 18,000 staff members in more than 75 countries. Amgen has reached millions of patients worldwide with our medicines and changed countless lives.

While a lot has changed over the years, Amgen’s mission to serve patients and its culture, rooted in science and innovation, has remained the same. As Amgen looks to the future, Amgen remains committed to its mission to serve patients. The first 35 years were just the beginning. In biotechnology and at Amgen – the best is yet to come.

To learn more about Amgen’s unique history, visit AmgenHistory.com.