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The Pathogen Tracker Game has been created as a fun challenge for anyone interested in learning more about the spread of foodborne illnesses and how online databases can help track down the source of the organisms that cause them.

The game centers around Listeria monocytogenes, a potentially deadly cause of “food poisoning,” especially in pregnant women. Listeria was the featured organism for the initial prototype of the Pathogen Tracker bioinformatics system developed at the Laboratory of Food Microbiology & Pathogenesis of Foodborne Diseases directed by Dr. Martin Wiedmann.


The original game was initially part of SciCentr, an outreach component for Cornell’s supercomputing center. It was conceived and created by Jennifer Peth, Cornell ‘06, and produced by Margaret Corbit, SciCentr director, with technical support from Richard Bernstein, and artistic support from David Peth, Cornell ‘04.

Educational materials were produced in 2010 by master science teacher Mimi Cooper, with support of a team funded by the FDA and including: Dr. Alicia Orta-Ramirez (Cornell Food Science), Tracy DuVernoy, D.V.M. (FDA), Louise Dickerson (FDA), Isabelle Howes (The Graduate School), and Margaret Corbit (MD Corbit, LLC).

About the FDA

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) work cooperatively to enhance food safety. The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. The FDA is the agency of the U.S. government authorized by Congress to inspect, test, and set safety standards for all food, except meat, poultry, and processed eggs.