14-year-old Anika Chebrolu was just named the winner of the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge, an annual innovation competition hosted in partnership with Discovery Education. The eight-grader from Frisco, Texas earned the ‘America’s Top Young Scientist’ title for using in-silico methods to identify a molecule that can selectively bind to the Spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in an attempt to develop a potential cure – in the form of a novel antiviral drug – for COVID-19.
When Anika entered 3M’s 2020 Young Scientist Challenge her original goal was to identify a lead compound that could bind to a protein of the influenza virus to develop a novel anti-influenza drug. But she switched gears when the COVID-19 pandemic quickly spread across the globe. In an interview with CNN, the young scientist whose future goal is to be a medical researcher and professor explained, “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.”
Of her reasons for entering the Young Scientist Challenge Anika said, “I have always been amazed by science experiments since my childhood and I was drawn towards finding effective cures for Influenza disease after a severe bout of the infection last year. I would like to learn more from 3M scientists to pursue my drug development and with their help, would like to conduct in-vitro and in-vivo testing of my lead drug candidate.”
In taking this year’s top prize, which includes the ‘America’s Top Young Scientist’ title, a $25,000 cash prize, and a one-of-a-kind 2 day/1-night destination trip, Anika competed against nine other finalists.
Source: Women You Should Know Website