Left Background

In The News

 :   : 

Researcher Awarded $1 Million to Bring Video Games to the Classroom

Educational game in development will focus on science of drug addiction

While video games sometimes get a bad rap for enticing children and teens to spend hours in front of a glowing screen, one University of Missouri School of Medicine researcher has the chance to prove games can be beneficial in the classroom.

Joel Epstein, PhD, MU associate professor of psychiatry and researcher at the Missouri Institute of Mental Health in St. Louis, recently received a four-year $1 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, to develop a video game focused on what happens in the brain and the body when a person uses drugs.

Epstein, the recipient of two previous NIDA grants for developing multimedia programs that educate children on the dangers of substance abuse, views this project as a progression of his 17 years of work with the MIMH. First there were videos, then interactive CD-ROMs that were distributed to 19,000 schools across the country, and now, a video game.

“We’ve always done something a bit different than kids are used to and they’ve responded really well to it,” Epstein said. “I think the more you can engage them in the learning process, the more likely it is that the information you’re trying to convey to them will be retained.”


As someone who worked as a freelance computer programmer while earning his PhD in clinical psychology, Epstein is especially qualified to lead a creative team at MIMH in developing the video game software.

During the development phase, Epstein will work with St. Louis teachers to ensure that the game fits seamlessly into state curriculum standards and meets educational objectives. Focus groups with some important stakeholders – the fourth- and fifth-grade students who make up the target audience – will help developers determine how the game should look and function. The final result will be a single curriculum with two different versions of software, one competitive and one socially collaborative, to test how boys and girls respond to these different types of presentations.

Pretesting children to determine their knowledge about the science of addiction, their attitudes toward drug use and their attitudes toward science in general will help gauge the game’s success. Once the children have played the game, researchers will conduct several follow-up tests to see if playing time has had any impact on these variables.

“My hope is that we can create a unique, memorable and effective learning experience,” Epstein said. “The students will be so engaged in the storyline of the game that they’ll also be engaged in the content we’re trying to get across.”

To view and download Epstein’s previous multimedia programs that teach students about the science of addiction, visit http://www.heyneuron.com/.

Missouri Medical Review

Missouri Medical Review

News and Events

MU Professor Recognized for Her Longstanding Leadership in Medical Education
Elizabeth Garrett strives to improve health care by advancing family medicine teaching
Full Story...

Underrepresented Minority Students Try on Careers at MU Health Professions Summit
Cristo Rey High School students participate in hands-on activities and job shadowing
Full Story...

Cardiovascular Expert Joins Leading Scientists as New Member of NIH Study Section
National panel reviews research related to heart function and disease
Full Story...

World Ophthalmology Congress Brings MU Discoveries Into Focus
Nanomedicine research could help millions suffering from corneal conditions
Full Story...

Family Physician Recognized For International Medical Service
After serving for 10 years in Nepal, Joseph LeMaster now cares for Mid-Missouri families
Full Story...

New Anatomy Lab Open House
Full Story...

MU Exploring Common Metal's Cancer-Causing Potential
Scientist Jane McElroy studying cadmium's health effects with grant from American Cancer Society
Full Story...

MU Awarded $6.8 Million to Support Use of Electronic Health Records Statewide
New center will help thousands of providers use technology to improve care for patients most in need
Full Story...

MedZou Free Clinic Founders Among 100 MU School of Medicine Graduates
Top national security medical adviser and alumnus to deliver commencement address
Full Story...

Alumnus Who Prepares Nation for Disease and Disaster to Speak at Medical School
Alexander Garza to discuss his experiences as a physician and top national security medical adviser
Full Story...

MU Awarded $8.5 Million to Explore Tiny Vessels’ Role in Cardiovascular Diseases
One of MU’s largest medical research grants will advance study of America’s No. 1 killer
Full Story...

MU Researchers Receive International Recognition in Abstract Competition
Discoveries will be featured during meeting of the Association for Research in Vision Ophthalmology
Full Story...

MU Policy Expert and Physician to Explain New National Health Care Reform Law
Full Story...

MU Researchers Show Potential for New Cancer Detection and Therapy Method
Findings published today in one of the world's most prestigious scientific journals
Full Story...

Carlos Perez-Mesa, MD, Lectureship in Medical Humanities
Features Subjects of Highly Praised Documentary Life. Support. Music.
Full Story...

MD-PhD Student’s Translational Research Recognized in National Competition
Gene therapy scientists offer hope to children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy
Full Story...

Presentation to Span Decades of Discussion on End-of-Life Health Care Planning
Full Story...

School of Medicine Educators to Present Insights and Innovations
Full Story...

Match Day Marks Beginning of New Chapter for MU Medical Students
Announcement of residency placement ignites waves of emotion
Full Story...

Proximity to Parks Plays a Part in Physical Fitness
Researcher will discuss how environment, city planning can help fight childhood and adult obesity
Full Story...

MU Inorganic Chemistry Pioneer Honored for Outstanding Research Achievements
World’s largest scientific society will recognize M. Frederick Hawthorne
Full Story...

MEDIA ADVISORY: National Expert in Rural Health Workforce Studies To Discuss Rural Physician Shortage
Full Story...

MU and Springfield Health Systems Exploring Plan to Produce More Missouri Physicians
Full Story...

MU Education Program for Resident Physicians Receives Three-Year Accreditation
Full Story...

MU Radiology Researcher Developing Drug for Patients with Oral Cancer
New grant supports efforts to weaken cancer cell resistance to therapy and prevent tumor growth
Full Story...

New Literature in Health Care Program Emphasizes the Patient's Perspective
Monthly series seeks to spark discussion about ethical and cultural aspects of medicine
Full Story...

News Archive


If you have questions please contact:

Alex Hopkins

Charles Rudkin

Revised: Thursday, May 21, 2009 • Copyright © 2007 The Curators of the University of Missouri
All rights reserved. DMCA and other copyright information.
An equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.
Published by the Office of Communication & Innovation
Contact the Webmaster