Texas 14-year-old wins $25,000 for developing potential COVID-19 treatment

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Saturday, October 17, 2020
14-year-old recognized for COVID-19 cure research
A 14-year-old won $25,000 for her work on a cure for COVID-19.

FRISCO, TX -- A 14-year-old won $25,000 for her work on a potential treatment for COVID-19.

Anika Chebrolu is from Frisco, Texas, and she's being called America's top young scientist.

"It's exciting. I'm still trying to process everything," she told KTVT.

As an eighth grader, Chebrolu won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her work on a potential drug to treat COVID-19.

"I developed this molecule that can bind to a certain protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This protein by binding to it will stop the function of the protein," she said.

Chebrolu started off working on ways to fight the seasonal flu, but like many professional scientists, her plans changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In order to find her potential drug, she used multiple computer programs to identify how and where the molecule would bind to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It's unclear whether her research has been tested in cells or a live model.

She said the scope of the pandemic and the stories about the people who were suffering inspired her work. She also credits her grandfather for pushing her to thrive in 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."