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New card game supports the teaching and learning of clinical pharmacology

28 June 2024

2 minutes to read

New card game supports the teaching and learning of clinical pharmacology

Licensing can be a tricky field to navigate. We spoke to Dr Mark Carew to explore his licensing journey with his card game, What the Pharma?Game.

Dr Mark Carew, Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Exeter Medical School, launched an educational card game with Focus Games, in June 2024.

The idea for the card game came about while teaching Pharmacy students at another institution a few years ago.

Initially, the students struggled with foundational information in physiology. However, Carew created a card game similar to Articulate! to both teach and assess the newly learnt knowledge. Now at Exeter, Carew developed a new card game to teach clinical pharmacology: in which players learn by making sets of cards (drugs, mechanisms of drug action, indications, and side effects) and explain the clinical relevance of the set to their teammates.

The idea evolved and was supported in one of the Education Incubator workshops run by the Commercialisation Team at Exeter Innovation. During the Education Incubator, educators can explore pedagogic ideas with their peers to share ideas through Development Workshops, Incubator Cafes, and an online network. After award of an Incubator Discovery grant which involved running an Empathy Map workshop with medical students about learning clinical pharmacology, Carew joined ARC Launch a programme consisting of four virtual workshops and presentations for researchers to gain entrepreneurial experience and explore business models that will generate impact at scale.

Dr Mark Carew said, “The workshops really opened my eyes to what a successful product has to be able to do and look like.”

While attending the programme, Carew collaborated with Dr James Woodhams, Commercialisation Manager for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Exeter Innovation, for expert, one-to-one guidance with commercialisation and licensing.

The experience helped inform the decision to license the product and work with an external partner instead of producing the game independently, which can be costly and time-consuming.

Dr James Woodhams commented on the benefits of licensing: “There are many people in this market who you have to compete with in order to get your voice heard, a collaboration can not only increase efficiency, but it can also increase reach and speed of impact.”

Other benefits include:

  • Increased reach to ready-established global markets
  • Access to a knowledge base experienced in licensing
  • The original creator can own all the rights to the product
  • Two parties investing their time increases the efficiency of the process

These benefits motivated Carew to contact Focus Games and assess whether they would be interested in a partnership.

“I chose Focus Games because I was aware that they worked in the educational games field. I had used one of their games, The Drug Round Game, with students, and I could tell from the wide range that they would be a good fit with the card game,” said Dr Mark Carew.

“I emailed Focus Games in September 2023 and CEO Melvin Bell replied within the hour asking for a Teams meeting to discuss the game. Overall, it was an incredibly positive experience.”

Melvin Bell, CEO of Focus Games, said: “There is a demand for resources that support different learning styles and peer learning from students and professionals both in the UK and globally. For two decades, we have partnered with innovators like Mark to identify and fill gaps in the market. Working with Mark and the team at the University of Exeter to take What the Pharma? from concept to market has been an exciting journey.”

Purchase the game here:

For more information please contact:

To find out more about What The Pharma?, please contact Mark Carew.

Further information for University of Exeter researchers interested in licensing can be found on the Ideas Hub SharePoint or email our commercialisation team.


Dr Mark Carew


Focus Games
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