A world leader in computer science, technology, and engineering, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has driven innovation since it was founded in 1900. CMU faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientiﬁc and technological challenges. They put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. In this case, computer scientists from CMU collaborated with biophysicists to create the online game Eterna, in which scientists learn from players how RNA molecules fold into functional molecular machines. VirtuaLab is built around Eterna’s RNA folding game.
The Eterna project was the brainchild of computer scientists Jeehyung Lee and Adrien Treuille and biophysicist Rhiju Das. With their teams, they created the massively multiplayer online Eterna game, where players design RNA molecules and, in so doing, teach scientists how RNA molecules fold in life. The very best RNA designs from the Eterna game are synthesized in the lab and may—one day—be used as the basis for lifesaving molecular machines. The RNA puzzles in VirtuaLab were made using Eterna’s puzzle editor.