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Labster game offers virtual biotech training

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When many students sign on for a degree in biotechnology, they're looking forward to exciting careers solving murders, discovering DNA breakthroughs and inventing cures for diseases. Then, they spend years wading through dreary books. Drop-out rates are high.

A new video game, based on a virtual laboratory, has been launched to give students an opportunity to engage in activities using digital versions of expensive equipment or cadavers, that aren't generally available to students. Games include sequencing DNA from ancient bones and identifying criminals by comparing blood samples.

Labster was created by Harvard graduate and biotech engineering expert Mads Bonde, who wants to inspire students throughout active learning, helping to arrest dropout rates.

"Many students drop out of their degrees at the beginning, where they have a lot of basic learning that is often far removed from the potential exciting future they are heading to," he said. "What we can do with Labster is tie the basic knowledge and basic learning, the principles they really need to understand, into why it is extremely interesting and why it has important applications."