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College of Medicine Team Creates Award-Winning Educational Game

November 10, 2023

By August Ryan

An educational game designed by a team from the Institute for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease at Drexel University College of Medicine recently took home a silver medal from the International Serious Play Awards competition in Toronto, Canada.

The game is CRISPR Cutout™, the Institute’s fourth mobile educational game. Players learn about the molecular aspects of the cutting-edge CRISPR genome editing technology by using it to cut a sequence of HIV DNA out of a cell. Two guides called Crispy and G teach players explore how CRISPR is created and how it can be used in editing DNA to cure disease.

CRISPR Cutout™

On its website, the International Serious Play Conference says its awards “honor outstanding learning products which incorporate game elements and were created for use in education or training.” The College of Medicine team competed in the Student Entry category, and CRISPR Cutout™ was evaluated as an educational tool for people 13 and older, particularly non-scientist patients or for students learning about CRISPR.

Mary Ann Comunale, EdD, MS, assistant professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and the director for the College of Medicine’s Center for Science Communication and Outreach, served as the project director and assisted with game design for CRISPR Cutout™.

The subject-matter experts who consulted on the game included two associate professors from the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Will Dampier, PhD, and Michael Nonnemacher, PhD, who is also an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, the program director for the Microbiology & Immunology graduate program, and the associate director of the Center for Molecular Virology and Translational Neuroscience, among other roles.

Brian Wigdahl, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, and director of the Institute for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease, served as a subject-matter expert in addition to acting as a producer of the game.

Subject-matter expert Jill Lawrence is a neurovirology researcher and PhD candidate in Molecular & Cell Biology & Genetics.

Other students involved in the creation of CRISPR Cutout™ were undergraduate co-op interns: Julia DiBenedetto, an Animation and Visual Effects major in the Antionette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design’s class of 2024, provided animations for the game. Colin Page, a Computer Science major in the College of Computing and Informatics’ class of 2025, served as the game developer and a designer.

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