14-Year-Old Wins $25,000 Science Prize For Discovery That Could Help Cure COVID-19

Anika Cherbrolu won this year's 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Her project discovered a molecule that binds to and inhibits a protein of SARS-CoV-2.

This discovery — that required her to screen millions of small molecules — could lead to an effective drug treatment for COVID-19!

Students across the United States could enter the challenge.

To compete, students submitted a video that described how they could solve a real-world problem with science.

The students' videos were judged for creativity, scientific knowledge, effective communication, and overall presentation. From that group, 10 students were chosen as finalists.

Each finalist was paired with a 3M scientist mentor.

Then, over the summer, the student and mentor developed a project.

Chebrolu originally proposed researching the seasonal flu. However, she shifted her focus to COVID because of the gravity of the problem.

Chebrolu's grandpa inspired her interest in science.

She told CNN that:

"My grandpa, when I was younger, he always pushed me towards science. He was actually a chemistry professor. And he used to always tell me 'learn the periodic table of elements' and 'learn all these things about science'. And overtime I just grew to love it."

Despite all of the praise, Chebrolu remains modest about her accomplishments.

She told CNN:

"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."

"How I develop this molecule further with the help of virologists and drug development specialists will determine the success of these efforts."

h/t: CNN