clients / case studies / universities

UA College of Nursing


Demonstrate the feasibility and efficacy of a specific Virtual World Math Program curriculum on the life-long math abilities and non-verbal working memory among children with leukemia


Assistance to the University grant request and submission process



Leukemia and brain tumors are the most common cancers among children and adolescents in the United States. There has been dramatic improvement in long-term disease-free survival from these tumors, which is due in part to aggressive treatment of the central nervous system (CNS). However, CNS treatment regimens that include chemotherapy and/or radiation are associated with declines in cognitive and academic abilities, especially math. In fact, parents and teachers of childhood cancer survivors consistently identify declines in math abilities as an area of particular academic difficulty.  An Interdisciplinary Neurocognitive Research Working Group sponsored by Children’s Oncology Group in 2009 were that: 1. academic problems are one of the most prevalent and challenging side effects of cancer therapy, and 2. interventions to improve cognitive and academic outcomes in children with cancer are lacking and greatly needed.

Findings from our Math Intervention for Children with Cancer Project conducted by Drs. Moore (College of Nursing) and Anhalt (College of Mathematics) at The University of Arizona College of Nursing demonstrated that a real-world, classroom-setting, teacher-assisted Math Intervention Program had a significant positive effect on math abilities and non-verbal working memory among children with leukemia receiving CNS treatment. Despite the significant benefits of the intervention on math abilities, the real-world, teacher-assisted intervention method could not be delivered to children who resided long distances from the oncology treatment center or to children who were only seen at the treatment center for annual long-term follow-up appointments. Furthermore, the resources required for the teacher-assisted intervention made it very difficult to disseminate the intervention to pediatric oncology centers across the United States.  

What did we do?

In complete cooperation with the University, we proposed to overcome these limitations by developing and testing the efficacy of a Virtual World Math Program, that was based on the promising preliminary math exercises and games conducted at the University.  Our long term goals are to develop a Virtual World Math program that can be delivered via web portal to children with cancer or other types of CNS injury, and demonstrate that the virtual environment has similar positive life-long outcomes  while allowing wider access and more complete program tracking capabilities.

The proposed cooperation brings to bear the resources thyat no single one of the participating organizations posess:  Ephibian brings the software development expertise to put the web portal, programs and exercies online with significant participant-tracking and parent/physician oversight; the college of nursing brings the subject matter expertise in the field of childhood CNS trauma; and the college of mathematics brings the expertise in the mathematical basis to tweak and fine-tune the math programs and exercises.

In cooperation with the two University Colleges, Ephibian helped develop and submit the grant request through the stringent NIH process.

What was the result?

Both the University and Ephibian could pursue a valuable and noble grant opportunity, where neither organization could "go it alone".  We worked together to navigate a complex and stringent grant submission process, and get the grant paperwork in on-time and in proper format.

At the time of this writing (May 2010), the grant remains under review by the NIH subcommittee.