Einstein M.D./Ph.D. Student Wins Lasker Essay Contest

When it comes to education, Einstein M.D./Ph.D. student Peter John knows what motivates students to learn. “The most effective lessons are intellectually engaging and entertaining. Electronic games are a good strategy for achieving both goals,” he says.

M.D./Ph.D. candidate Peter John works in the immunotherapy lab of Xingxing Zang, Ph.D.
M.D./Ph.D. candidate Peter John works in the immunotherapy lab of Xingxing Zang, Ph.D.

He wrote an essay about just that—“Making It All Fun and Games in the Biomedical Sciences”—and submitted it earlier this year for consideration in the 2019 Lasker Foundation Essay Contest. He found out this month that his nearly 800-word essay earned the top prize of $10,000, to be used for educational expenses. 

The rising sixth-year student, who studies cancer immunology under Xingxing Zang, Ph.D., proposed the creation of video games that would immerse young players in biomedical research, providing an instructive yet rewarding experience.

“Video games have been effective for teaching other subjects, such as history,” Mr. John says. “Thanks to new technologies, they have great potential for teaching science as well.”

One of three co-winners of the essay contest, Mr. John also has been invited to attend the Lasker Award luncheon in September in New York City, where he will meet the winners of the 2019 Lasker Award. The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation’s mission is to improve health by accelerating support for medical research. The Lasker Awards have been awarded annually since 1945 to recognize people who have made a major contribution to biological discoveries that improve human health; they are sometimes referred to as “America’s Nobels” and have often identified future winners of the Nobel Prize.

Learn more about the essay contest on the Lasker Foundation website, and read Mr. John’s prize-winning essay here.