The Drug Discovery Game is an engaging, fun, interactive demonstration that serves as a springboard to a discussion of the methods used in medicinal chemistry. Students (playing the role of medicinal chemists) are given seed capital money and challenged to invent a small molecule pharmaceutical starting with a central molecular scaffold and molecular fragments. The demonstrator/teacher (playing the role of a biologist running an assay) provides logical feedback after each student’s attempt that guides the student toward the solution. The game simulates portions of the workflow of medicinal chemistry research and launches discussions of such topics as the methods of modern drug invention, the cost of pharmaceuticals, molecular structure and design, and structure-activity relationships.
This website contains all that is required to play the game including a “how-to-play” video, instructions for set-up, rules, freely downloadable pieces for various puzzles, and some ideas for education discussion points. The game has been employed as an educational outreach activity for upper elementary, middle, and high school students during “Take Your Child to Work Day” at a biotechnology company and utilized during introductory lessons in organic and medicinal chemistry on an undergraduate level...Sounds like a great idea and a wonderful way to talk about drug discovery in an interactive way with kids (probably older ones?)
(On a side note, Take Your Child to Work Day is next Wednesday, April 27. My company doesn't do this sort of thing - what are folks' experiences with this on at your organizations? What works well, what doesn't?)