A 14-year-old Texas teenager won $25,000 for her groundbreaking work on potential Coronavirus treatment. The Indian-origin teen has been getting national recognition for her contribution to the healthcare system.
Anika Chebrolu is a freshman at Independence High School in Frisco. She is being hailed as the country's top young scientist and received the prize money for winning the 2020 Young Scientist Challenge competition for her potential Coronavirus breakthrough.
The Young Scientist
Chebrolu won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge for identifying a potential drug that would treat the Coronavirus caused disease COVID-19. The annual contest called for students in grades 5 to 8 to submit a video recording, demonstrating an innovation that could provide a solution to an everyday problem.
The judges selected 10 finalists, including Chebrolu, and paired them with a 3M scientist to create an invention to solve a daily issue. The Texas teen developed a novel antiviral drug to combat the spread of COVID-19, which has already killed over 218,000 Americans, by researching protein spikes in coronavirus.
The young scientist said she developed a molecule that binds to a protein on the virus and stops SARS-CoV-2 from functioning. According to her, she looked into a database of more than 682 million compounds, and then by using a computer program, Chebrolu figured out how and where the molecule would bind to the Coronavirus.
She was in middle school when she entered the science competition. At that time, she was planning her science project around finding ways to fight against seasonal flu. As per Chebrolu, she got inspired by the stories of people suffering from the novel Coronavirus infection. She also credited her grandfather, who was a chemistry professor, for taking her towards the science.
However, Denise Rutherford, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs at 3M said that amidst the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic, the quality of STEM education has become an even more urgent need. In spite of challenges, such as adjusting to new norms of distance learning as well as participating in virtual events, the finalists of this year's 3M Young Scientist Challenge have overcome all the barriers with grit, creativity, excitement, and innovative thinking for applying science to improve lives, as per Rutherford. He thanked this year's winner, Chebrolu, as well as other finalists.