14-Year-Old Indian-American Girl Wins $25,000 for Crucial COVID-19 Scientific Breakthrough

The pandemic has altered lives across the world in a variety of impactful ways. With promises of a cure on the horizon, people are waiting on the edge of their seats—and thanks to a 14-year-old girl from Texas, that possibility is even closer.

Eighth-grader Anika Chebrolu has been declared the winner of the nation's premier middle school science competition, the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

Anika screened millions of molecules for ADMET properties, drug-likeness properties, and binding affinities against the spike protein using numerous software tools.

As a result of her research, Anika discovered a molecule with the best pharmacological and biological activity toward the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Now, that molecule can be potentially used as an effective treatment against the disease.

Anika wasn't originally planning to focus her research efforts on a coronavirus. After a bad bout of the flu in 2019, Anika wanted to find a cure for influenza—however, after COVID-19 struck, Anika knew that she had to double-down on this particular virus.

Thanks to her hard work, Anika has been named America's Top Young Scientist. On top of a $25,000 prize, the teenager has been offered a special destination trip.

For Anika, science isn't about recognition. "Science is the basis of life and the entire universe and we have a long way to go to understand it fully."

"How I developed this molecule further with the help of virologist and drug development specialists will determine the success of these efforts," she said."

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