Indian-American girl Anika Chebrolu just won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge for the year 2020.  She was awarded a $25,000 for discovering a lead molecule that can be the key for COVID-19 treatment.

Chebrolu is 14 years old and belongs to an Indian-origin family based in Frisco, Texas. She won the 2020 scientist challenge for a COVID-19 treatment-related discovery by researching the spike protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. According to a report by CNN, Chebrolu experimented with in-silico methodology which she used to find a molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein. “The last two days, I saw that there is a lot of media hype about my project since it involves the SARS-CoV-2 virus and it reflects our collective hopes to end this pandemic as I, like everyone else, wish that we go back to our normal lives soon,” the young scientist said.

Anika wants to be a medical researcher

Studying in eighth grade, Chebrolu also aspires to be a medical researcher and professor in the future. She says she participated in the US premier middle school science competition in an attempt to find a cure for the coronavirus. She told CNN that initially her research was focussed on influenza virus.

Also Read: Working From Home, Indian-Origin Scientist Creates Fifth State Of Matter

“I was drawn towards finding effective cures for influenza disease after a severe bout of the infection last year,” Chebrolu said, according to the American manufacturing company, 3M Challenge website.

However, the coronavirus pandemic changed her plans. “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.”

Cheborlu said she 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,” she added.

She also revealed that is was her grandfather who had inspired her to take up science.”My grandpa, when I was younger, he always used to push me toward science. He was actually a chemistry professor, and he used to always tell me learn the periodic table of the elements and learn all these things about science, and over time I just grew to love it,” she said.

Chebrolu competed against nine other finalists in a virtual competition and beat everyone to take the top spot. She claims that her favorite invention of the last hundred years is the Internet because it allows users “to explore so much” with just a few clicks.

“I find it a treasure trove of information and it has become a valuable asset in pursuing knowledge and conducting research from anywhere and at anytime. I am amazed at how vast and profound it is and cannot imagine a world without the internet. When coupled with proper judgement and use, we can achieve so much more and I am enthused at its potential each time I use it,” said Anika Chebrolu.

Also Read: Mother-Daughter Researchers Share Why COVID-19 Affects Men More than Women

What’s next?

Her next goal, says Anika Chebrolu, is to work alongside scientists and researchers who are fighting to “control the morbidity and mortality” of the pandemic by using and developing her findings into actual treatment process.

Feature Image Credit: CNN

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