5 Engaging Ways to Teach Cancer Pharmacology that Make it Easier to Understand

Anjaney Kothari

Cancer – a disease with staggering statistics – is the second leading cause of death in the world. Countless scientists worldwide have been spearheading a collaborative effort to design, discover, and assess pharmaceuticals to better treat this disease. Not surprisingly, cancer pharmacology has rapidly become one of the hottest areas of research. Educators are working hard to train new prospective researchers on the fundamentals of experimental research in cancer pharmacology.  

But teaching cancer pharmacology is not a single task. Rather, it is a mammoth set of diverse tasks. From hands-on training on instruments like cell counters and biosafety cabinets, to teaching theoretical concepts like dose-response curves and EC50. From training the students on cell culture to teaching them cell viability assays.

Educators would benefit from teaching aides that can creatively help the students grasp the fundamental concepts of cancer pharmacology. Here, we list five creative ways to teach cancer pharmacology that make it fun and easy.

1. Use Interactive Models to Simplify Concepts

When a field of research requires the knowledge of numerous different techniques that all depend on one another, regular teaching and training methods may not be enough. What you need is an interactive method of teaching. One that can link all the techniques together and provide an immersive learning environment.

Labster’s cancer pharmacology simulation, for example, provides an insight into in vitro drug efficacy testing and dose-response curves. It also sheds light on the pros and cons of chemosensitivity testing for anti-cancer drug screening. Our simulation achieves all of this in an interactive manner in just about 50 minutes.

2. Unleash Fun with Games and Activities

Conducting games and activities in the classroom can offer a fresh perspective on a subject and make learning easier. Group activities can also facilitate collaborative learning and peer-to-peer teaching.

There are many ways in which you can incorporate cancer pharmacology education into a game or an activity. Video games, gamified simulations, quiz competitions, and board games are just a few possible ways to do so.

3. Ease Learning Through Technology

Technology-friendly educators tend to have higher success rates in their fields. Technologies like simulation and virtual reality can serve as trustworthy teachers’ aids. The complex topic that is cancer pharmacology can become easier to teach and learn with the help of such technologies.

Take Labster’s cancer pharmacology simulation, for example. In our simulation, the students enter a virtual lab and learn how to:

·       Conduct and interpret the MTT assay, a commonly used cell viability assay.

·       Determine EC50 values from dose-response curves.

·       Interpret the mechanisms of action of cancer drugs, such as cyclophosphamide and epirubicin.

Discover Labster's Cancer Pharmacology virtual lab today.

4. Inspire Students by Discussing Career Opportunities

Inspiring students to pursue career opportunities related to a subject can encourage them to pay greater attention in class. Discussing the plethora of career opportunities that cancer pharmacology builds could make your students excited about studying this important topic.  

Here are some examples you could discuss:

·       Pharmacologists looking for new pharmaceutical and combinatorial treatments for different types of cancer apply a host of cancer pharmacology techniques.

·       Clinicians and researchers deciding on the dosage values for clinical trials of novel cancer drugs need appropriate dose-response curves.

·       Cancer immunologists perform chemosensitivity testing on cell lines to come up with better treatments.

5. Connect Topic to Real-World Applications

The broader the scope of a topic, the further the students move from its real-world applications. Educators often miss out on the opportunity to bring students closer to a topic by building connections with real-world scenarios. You can change this in your classroom.

Talk to your students about how cancer pharmacologists help millions of people beat cancer every year. Shed some light on how misreading a dose-response curve could have a colossal impact on patient health.

Final thoughts

Cancer pharmacologists play a critical role in developing and screening new (and possibly better) drugs for cancer treatment. Training your students on the many different techniques that cancer pharmacologists use in order to fulfill this role is an important but tedious task. The creative teaching methods we have discussed here can help make cancer pharmacology an interesting and approachable topic for students.

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