For Immediate Release
June 18, 2012
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office
Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Vertex Pharmaceuticals CEO Dr. Jeff Leiden today announced plans for Vertex’s growing presence in Boston, including a three-year, approximately $1.5 million collaboration between Vertex and Boston Public Schools (BPS) and Vertex’s lease for 98,000 square feet in Boston’s Innovation District for small-scale manufacturing and other logistical functions.
Joined by BPS Superintendent Carol R. Johnson, Mayor Menino and Dr. Leiden detailed the wide-ranging commitment to science education in Boston. In addition to focusing on adopting two South Boston high schools, the partnership between BPS and Vertex will support a range of activities aimed at enhancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education throughout the city. This is the first time a local business has worked with the school district to create this type of comprehensive and focused program.
“This is what biotechnology is in Boston: a growing company making life saving discoveries and training the next generation of scientists,” said Mayor Menino. “Vertex recognizes the importance of investing in the students who are being educated in its own neighborhood. This collaboration is more than a financial commitment – it is a commitment by Vertex to work alongside our students and teachers together to help build a better city.”
As part of the collaboration, Vertex will partner with two BPS high schools in South Boston – Boston Green Academy and Excel High School – where programs will aim to increase student participation and achievement in advanced placement (AP) courses and prepare teachers for the national “Next Generation Science Standards” being implemented next year. Vertex also today announced the dedication of a new 3,000 square foot learning laboratory being constructed at its future headquarters in the Innovation District. The learning laboratory will be available for use by BPS and other community groups, allowing students and teachers to conduct scientific projects alongside Vertex scientists.
“We’re delighted to join with the BPS to strengthen science education and make a difference in the lives of students and teachers in our local schools,” said Jeff Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., Chair, President & Chief Executive Officer of Vertex. “Massachusetts has long been known as a state where innovation thrives, and we look forward to supporting the students who will be our future scientists. I hope that in the years ahead, this collaboration will be a model for other similar programs in our communities.”
The collaboration includes multiple programs aimed at supporting STEM education and preparing students for college and STEM-related careers:
Advanced Placement Support: A core element of the collaboration is focused on supporting multiple activities to increase AP participation and performance in AP subject areas including AP Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The goals of these activities are to reduce the achievement and access gaps for underserved students and to prepare them for college-level scientific courses.
Summer Jobs: Students from each of the two South Boston schools will be eligible for summer internships at Vertex. The program will pair up to 20 students per summer with Vertex scientists and staff to help prepare them for careers in science. This will be a key addition to the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Campaign that encourages Boston companies to provide Boston students pathways to careers via summer experiences.
University Scholarships: Under this collaboration, Vertex will also award one university scholarship per year to a student from the two South Boston schools. The scholarship will include full financial support to attend a Massachusetts state college or university, up to $25,000 per year per student for four years. These funds will either provide for the entire cost of attendance for four years or complement other existing scholarships available to the students to ensure the student receives full financial support for tuition, fees, and other related expenses.
Teacher-Researcher Fellowship Program: Vertex’s program also recognizes that supporting teachers and encouraging their continued professional development is vital to student achievement and success at the university level. As a result, Vertex is sponsoring a teacher-researcher fellowship program where teachers from the two South Boston schools will be partnered with Vertex scientists and exposed to current research and laboratory techniques and skills. These teachers are tasked with returning to their schools and sharing these experiences with their colleagues.
Learning Lab: To provide BPS and the local community with a cutting-edge teaching laboratory, Vertex is building a 3,000 square foot teaching lab within its new headquarters at Fan Pier. This facility will consist of both laboratory and teaching space that will accommodate approximately 30 students. Students from the two South Boston schools, as well as other local schools and community programs, will be able to use the Vertex learning lab on a regular basis to establish advanced laboratory skills alongside Vertex researchers. The Vertex learning lab also will provide teachers with the resources to implement the instruction techniques expected of them under the new science education guidelines. More than 250 Vertex employee volunteers will support this initiative by staffing the lab during community education activities throughout the year.
Importantly, Vertex and the BPS structured this collaboration to ensure continuity across the various initiatives and to allow for measurable results within each program. The Mass Math + Science Initiative (MMSI) will administer components of the AP program to enable robust measurement of the program’s progress. BPS and Vertex will administer other aspects of the collaboration.
“We are encouraged by Vertex’s commitment to supporting STEM education within the BPS through such a broad and comprehensive program,” said, Dr. Carol R. Johnson, Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools. “The multi-year commitment helps us plan for the sustainability and growth of our STEM education programs, and the resources provided through Vertex’s learning lab will be an invaluable asset as we implement the new science education guidelines across the district.”
Mayor Menino and Leiden also announced that Vertex would expand its Boston headquarters presence with a 98,000 square foot facility for small-scale manufacturing for clinical trials and other logistical functions such as shipping and receiving. Vertex will lease this space at 1 Harbor Drive, only a half mile from its future home now under construction at Fan Pier. Mayor Menino said, “The Industrial Park in our Innovation District is a unique complement to the development now taking place all along the waterfront. We are delighted Vertex is expanding their presence in Boston to suit a wider range of their needs and employ more of their growing workforce.”
The two announcements came as Mayor Menino and Dr. Leiden kicked off a tour of Boston’s Innovation District for attendees to the 2012 Bio International Convention.