Cancer Avenger


You are a Stanford sophomore studying biology. Right before the midterm, an enthusiastic prof introduces seven cell signaling pathways. Each entails a string of proteins that work via seemingly arbitrary mechanisms. He’s making connections to cancer, Alzheimer’s, stem cells, and the miracle of development. All you can think is how the heck will I remember protein names like p53, TGF-beta, and MAP kinase kinase kinase?


Pedagogical reasoning:

While many students struggle to learn cell signaling, review in section is not an efficient use of time; students need to engage actively with the material to master it. Cancer Avenger, a web and mobile-device game, addresses the learning barrier by captivating students in a fast-paced mechanic within the context of beating cancer. The central mechanic gamifies the scientific notation for cell signaling and the narrative draws on cancer material presented later in the course. This year’s Course Associates (CAs) state that Cancer Avenger is the most effective way to learn the cell signaling pathways.


Visit the Cancer Avenger Web page. Play the game on the web or on your iOS mobile device!


Game Development Team:

  • Designer, artist, writer, animator, producer: Ariel Marcy
  • Web Game Developer: Jordan Marcy
  • Mobile Device Developer: Dustin Selman
  • Composer: Zach Rosen
Stanford Faculty Advisors:

  • Roel Nusse (Med school)
  • Jonathan Edelman (
  • Carol Boggs (HumBio)
  • Matt Scott (Med school)

This game was funded by Stanford’s Hoagland Award Fund for Innovations in Undergraduate Teaching, The Program in Human Biology, and a generous donation by The Huttons.

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