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.”

Featured Image via CBSDFW

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