Digital World Biology is a leading developer of apps and iBooks™ for STEM education. Our flagship products, Molecule World™ and the MW DNA Binding Lab™, provide students with fun and engaging ways to visualize and work with authentic 3D chemical and macromolecular structure models in ways that help students connect the sequences of DNA, RNA, and proteins with their structures and biological functions.
A central challenge in teaching biology is that the molecules essential for life like ATP, DNA, RNA, proteins, and chemicals are invisible to the naked eye. Scientists explore these molecules by using tools like electron microscopy, x-ray crystallography, and NMR to gather data and computational software, like Molecule World, to build models from that data and display them in different ways. Unlike many types of modeling software, Molecule World is exceedingly user friendly. Molecular models can be downloaded from many different public databases and viewed by many types of chemical and physical properties. Color controls make it possible to see where molecules are charged and identify hydrophobic or hydrophilic regions. This helps students understand where proteins cross biological membranes and how receptors can interact with ligands to transport molecules across a membrane or open or close ion channels.
An adaptive color key makes it possible to identify elements in chemicals as well as different nucleotides and amino acids in a DNA or protein chain. Coloring structures by residue makes it easy to see patterns, such as palindromes in DNA sequences, or repetitive regions in proteins. Coloring by molecule shows how different molecules interact. For example, in the MW DNA Binding Lab, the molecule coloring option helps us see how both proteins and small molecules like anti-cancer drugs bind specific shapes in DNA. Viewing complex structures like ribosomes, viral capsids and larger molecular assemblies in Molecule World shows us how several proteins interact to form larger complexes. An added benefit is that many of these multi-subunit structures are unexpectedly beautiful, thus providing a connection between biology, chemistry, and art.
Digital World Biology’s founder, Dr. Sandra Porter, and head of business and software development, Dr. Todd Smith, have long experience in genomic and molecular biology. As biologists, we used molecular structures and DNA sequence analysis tools to increase our understanding of the natural world. As teachers, we helped other teachers and students deepen their understanding by using the same kinds of tools that provide insights to scientists. At the same time, we know from experience that many bioinformatics tools have severe usability challenges impeding their broad adoption.
Dr. Porter founded Digital World Biology with the mission to bring biology teaching into the modern era and improve student understanding by making the tools of modern biology more suitable for all biologists. Computational tools like Molecule World, the MW DNA Binding Lab, and our popular BLAST tutorial, are the first steps towards achieving this goal.