Amgen was incorporated on April 8, 1980, in Thousand Oaks, California, during the dawn of biotechnology. The company was created around a simple idea—that emerging research in biology could lead to meaningful advances if the right scientists could be assembled and given the appropriate resources. Since then, Amgen has grown to be one of the world's leading biotechnology companies, deeply rooted in science and innovation and focused on helping patients with serious illness.
Amgen is a venture capital success story. Venture capitalist Bill Bowes, previously a key player in founding such companies as Sun Microsystems and Applied Biosystems, recruited a small group of scientists and investors to establish AMGen (Applied Molecular Genetics). Together, the investors put up approximately $81,000 and obtained a loan for another $76,000 to found the company.
In the first three years, Amgen scientists, under the leadership of Amgen's first CEO, George Rathmann, tried many different experiments. These ranged from making specialty chemicals to cloning luciferase (the enzyme responsible for light generation in fireflies) to creating a process for producing indigo dye in E. coli. However, none of these early findings proved commercially viable. The focus soon shifted—to help treat serious illnesses.
Then, in 1983, came one of the first big discoveries. After working over two tireless years combing through 1.5 million fragments of the human genome, a team led by a young scientist named Fu-Kuen Lin was able to isolate and clone the erythropoietin gene—responsible for the stimulation of red blood cell production. This discovery would lead to one of the world's most successful biotech drugs, EPOGEN® (epoetin alfa), and set the future direction of the company.
Many things at Amgen remain unchanged from those early days. And yet, today, we still operate with the same drive, determination, pioneering spirit and values—finding ways to transform new ideas and discoveries into medicines that make life better for millions of people.
“To Serve Patients”
At Amgen, our mission is to serve patients. Our nearly 20,000 staff members around the world have a deep commitment to this mission. We are fully aware of both the privilege and the responsibility that goes along with this important work. We come to work knowing that with every decision made, we have the ability to make significant differences in the lives of those impacted by serious illnesses.
“We aspire to be the best human therapeutics company. We will live the Amgen Values and use science and innovation to dramatically improve people’s lives.”
For Amgen, our aspiration is that, by serving patients, we will become the best human therapeutics company. We believe that being "the best" goes beyond creating, manufacturing and delivering vital medicines. It means supporting patients through their full journey and making a positive difference in the communities where we operate. Each year, Amgen dedicates significant resources toward building a better tomorrow.
We are well on our way to achieving our aspiration. Amgen has created a robust portfolio of innovative medicines and a breakaway pipeline using a state-of-the-art approach to research and development. We're forging ahead into the next generation of biomanufacturing. We're reaching more and more patients in new and existing markets, offering new tools and support to ensure the best possible outcomes with our medicines.
All of this has allowed Amgen to become one of the world's leading biotechnology companies. But to be the best, we know we can't rest on the successes of the past. Every day, we continue our efforts to discover, innovate and deliver on our mission.