Cancer Fighters


CWRU SOM + IC, 2019


Answering the National Cancer Institute’s call to recruit the next generation of cancer researchers, CWRU Professor and Director of the SOM’s Center for Science, Health & Society Nate Berger has long championed programs to encourage diverse students to join the field.

Working with junior colleagues, Berger’s group designed a series of activities that help middle- and high-school aged students understand what cancer is and how we can fight it, like playing hide-and-seek across the research building to understand metastasis.

But, when Berger tried HoloLens, he imagined the device taking students to a whole new level. After storyboarding concepts with the IC, an initial app called Cancer Fighters emerged, funded through an NIH “Youth Engaged in Science” (YES) grant. The game requires students to work in teams to discern healthy cells from cancerous ones, and to apply the right tool to kill the cancer while saving the patient. Students can choose from an imaging tool, surgical scalpel, radiation, chemotherapy or targeted chemotherapy to fight the cancer. In the next phases of the project, the IC will build in the ability for students to select ways to refine and “power up” their tools to improve the patient’s outcome – just like they can in future cancer research careers.