Indian American Teen’s Potential COVID-19 Cure Wins $25K in Science Competition
An Indian American high school student in Frisco, Texas recently won $25,000 for developing a potential cure for COVID-19.
Young scientist: Anika Chebrolu, a 14-year old student at Independence High School, won the top prize at the “2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge,” CBS reported.
Anika developed a lead molecule to bind to a certain protein on the SARS COVID-2 virus that could potentially inhibit the viral protein and prevent “the virus entry into the cell, creating a viable drug target,” the press release for the competition stated.
She used in-silico methodology (prediction using computational approaches) to screen millions of “small molecules for drug-likeness properties” for her discovery.
Anika’s project, which she submitted when she was in eighth grade, initially targeted the influenza virus, according to CNN.
“Because of the immense severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drastic impact it had made on the world in such a short time, I, with the help of my mentor, changed directions to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” she was quoted as saying.
Anika recognizes how her project can contribute to the other efforts by other scientists currently working to find a treatment.
“How I develop this molecule further with the help of virologists and drug development specialists will determine the success of these efforts,” she added.
About the challenge: The 3M Young Scientist Challenge is a national competition for middle school students that aims to cultivate the next generation of problem solvers in the U.S.
To join, students in fifth to eighth grade are invited to submit a one- to two-minute video describing a unique solution to an everyday problem.
Ten finalists are chosen for their passion for science, the spirit of innovation and ingenuity, and effective communication skills.
The top winner gets a $25,000 cash prize, an exclusive 3M mentorship and the potential to work with the nation’s top scientists.
Dr. Cindy Moss, a judge for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, told CNN that Anika’s project was comprehensive and examined numerous databases.
“She also developed an understanding of the innovation process and is a masterful communicator,” she added. “Her willingness to use her time and talent to help make the world a better place gives us all hope.”
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