Are you tired of playing Farmville? Try Phylo instead! It's not yet on Facebook, but there are plans in the future to try and integrate Phylo into a Facebook application in the future. Instead of spending your break time farming virtual crops, spend it helping genetic researchers decode a disease!
Phylo was created by a team of bioinformaticians at MCGill University. The game uses the moves that players make to analyze genetic sequences. The researchers that created this game have found that the human brain is more efficient at doing some kind of calculations than a computer is able to do. For example, humans are much better at recognizing faces than computers are. So, if you want to find a way to efficiently recognize and sort the patterns in the human genetic code, you will want humans to do it, instead of computers. As a former teacher, I know that the best way to get a group of people to work on a specific task is to make that task fun.
When you play Phylo, you can use your free time to contribute to medical research in a very important way. Scientists, doctors, and researchers have been finding that there are many human diseases and conditions that are caused by small, but specific, defects in the genetic code. People who play the Phylo game can help researchers to unravel the link between DNA and a particular disease. If you like, you can choose which genetic disease you would like to help decode. Perhaps you can help scientists understand more about the genetically heritable disease that runs in your family!
Personally, I find this fascinating news! Those who know me are aware that I love video games, and spend several hours a week playing them. In college, I was only a few classes away from getting a minor in biology. I find genetics to be incredibly interesting. Phylo seems to blend both of these interests of mine into one game.