Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Havings some fun with immunology

Immunology was easily the most interesting class this block. Granted the material wasn't all that new to me (I took it in undergrad), but there is something about the complexity, scale and harmony of the immune system that makes me a mellow romantic each time I encounter it. The immuno department at WashU is top-notch, stacked with all-star talent, and that played a role in making the class fun as well. Plus, the coursemaster very generously pitched in to host a giant superbowl party (see what I did there?) in the main lecture hall.

True to form, the immuno final exam (the last one in a long week), which was last Friday, offered us a golden opportunity to be creative and have some fun. The very last question on the test was: you are designing a video game marketed to pre-med and med students whose goal is to teach immunology and make it seem fun. Explain why immunology is so important to the curriculum and professional careers of med students. Give your game a name.

As soon as I saw this question, the creative juices started flowing as if a million myoepithelial cells were squeezing the juice out through the duct. Here are some snippets of what I wrote:

Call of duty: the chaos within

Year 2012. Nefarious and dastardly microbes armed with sophisticated weapons like exotoxins, endotoxins and armor are invading your body. Depending on what level you play (n00b to SEAL Team Six), you will be attacked by an ever-growing cavalcade of microbes. At n00b, you get only one microbe, Strep pyogenes. At SEAL Team Six, you get HIV, MRSA, Vanco resistant Staph, and a bunch of other things, at the same time. Your job is to effectively marshal your resources and guide both arms of the immune system to annihilate the invaders. Can you handle it? You can talk the talk, but can you diapedesis the diapedesis? 

So much the premise. Here's the sales pitch: knowledge of immunology is essential because without it we will be rudderless ships in a turbulent Atlantic. 

I wrote some other stuff about how cool the JAK/STAT pathway is. I ended the response with: Anyway, I have said enough. I could write for pages but I will stop now.

I managed to take a pic of a part of the response, but it didn't come out that well: 
Coming to a Gamestop near you
That was the most fun I have had with an exam in a while. Even the TA chuckled when she glanced at the response.

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