EteRNA: A Videogame and a Massive Open Lab

Interactive media and games increasingly pervade and shape our society. In addition to their dominant roles in entertainment, video games play growing roles in education, arts, science and health. This seminar series brings together a diverse set of experts to provide interdisciplinary perspectives on these media regarding their history, technologies, scholarly research, industry, artistic value and potential future.

Join us every Friday From April 3rd until June 5th from 12pm-1pm in Shriram 104.

Also listed as one-unit course BIOE196. For more information contact

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Rhiju Das

Rhiju Das, EteRNA: A Videogame and a Massive Open Lab. Self-assembling RNA molecules offer the tantalizing possibility of rapidly interrogating and controlling living systems and human disease. This talk presents an expansion of the conventional videogame called the 'massive open laboratory’, which we developed to improve the computer-assisted design of RNA molecules. The EteRNA project connects more than 100,000 enthusiasts to RNA design puzzles through an online interface. Uniquely, EteRNA players not only manipulate simulated molecules but also control a remote experimental pipeline for high-throughput RNA synthesis and structure mapping. Our initial results in RNA design show that an online community can carry out large-scale experiments, hypothesis generation, and algorithm design to create practical advances in empirical science and engineering.

Dr. Das' lab focuses on the modeling and design of RNA molecules that carry out fundamental roles in biology and diseases including cancer and the flu. Most recently, the lab's EteRNA project has crowd-sourced research in RNA nanotechnology to over a hundred thousand citizen scientists, integrating actual wet-lab feedback into a videogame interface. Dr. Das trained in particle physics and cosmology at Harvard and Cambridge before switching to molecular biophysics during his Ph.D. at Stanford and postdoctoral work at the U. Washington. He is currently an assistant professor in the departments of biochemistry and physics at Stanford.