Third Sector Awards 2014: Use of Digital Media - Winner: Cancer Research UK for Citizen Science Programme

For the most innovative use of digital media

Play to Cure: Genes in Space is one of the games created by Cancer Research UK
Play to Cure: Genes in Space is one of the games created by Cancer Research UK

What did it do?

CRUK’s Citizen Science Programme brings together technology experts, developers and scientists to produce online games through which the public can analyse real cancer data. Cell Slider is a web-based portal that asks people to classify breast cancer cell samples, while Play to Cure: Genes in Space is a mobile app that translates genetic coding from cancer cells into a space-themed action game. Players are actually helping scientists to carry out tasks that can be done only by the human eye and would usually take years to complete.

How much did it cost?

The total cost of developing the two games was about £300,000, most of which was covered by corporate donations.

What did it achieve?

More than 500,000 citizen scientists from almost every country in the world have cumulatively volunteered more than 13 years of their time. The public has analysed more than five million samples of research data. Citizen scientists have produced results six times faster than scientists looking at the data in a lab could have achieved.

What did the judges say?

Peter McClory, managing director of Curve Agency, said: "Citizen Science continues to push innovation by tapping into the power of the crowd. The work was beautifully designed and the results speak for themselves."

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