Who is Anika Chebrolu?
In the beginning of the Coronavirus, scientists raced from around the world to find a treatment for the pandemic. However, among all the scientists, one stood out. Anika Chebrolu is a fourteen-year-old from Frisco, Texas, and she has just won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge — along with a $25,000 prize. What for, you might ask. She won it for a discovery that could provide a potential therapy to Covid-19. Anika’s winning invention uses in-silico methodology to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. “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,” Anika told CNN.
That wasn’t the initial goal. Her original goal was to use in-silico methods to identify a lead compound that could bind to a protein of the influenza virus. “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,” Anika said. She was inspired by the 1918 influenza pandemic and more specifically, how the disease persists despite the availability of medicine on the market. “Anika has an inquisitive mind and used her curiosity to ask questions about a vaccine for Covid-19,” Dr. Cindy Moss, a judge for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, told CNN.
“Winning the prize was an honor,” Anika said, but her work is not done yet. Her next goal, she says, is to work alongside scientists who are fighting to control the severity of the pandemic by developing her findings into an actual, working cure for all those afflicted. “My effort to find a lead compound to bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus this summer may appear to be a drop in the ocean, but still adds to all these efforts,” she said. “How I develop this molecule further with the help of virologists and drug development specialists will determine the success of these efforts.”
3 Things We Love About Anika Chebrolu:
- Anika trains for the Indian classical dance called Bharatanatyam, which she has been practicing for eight years.
- She is a proud Indian-American!
- She aspires to be a doctor!