This Frisco High School Freshman Is Our Only Hope

Anika is smarter than you.
Anika is smarter than you. courtesy 3M Young Scientist Challenge

While you're sitting on your couch with Cheeto dust on your fingers, wondering when the hell of 2020 will be over, just know there is a Frisco high school freshman on her way to curing 2020's deadly coronavirus.

Anika Chebrolu, a freshman at Frisco's Independence High School, won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge and earned the Improving Lives Award "for her pursuit in searching for a cure to COVID-19," according to She was named America’s Top Young Scientist because she "discovered a molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2. Binding and inhibiting this viral protein would potentially stop the virus' entry into the cell, creating a viable drug target." We have zero idea what any of that means, but it sounds complicated and intelligent. Chebrolu won $25,000 for her work. How do those Cheetos taste now?

Chebrolu used "in-silico methodology for drug discovery to find a molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in an attempt to find a cure for the COVID-19 pandemic," according to the contest's website. Oh, the in-silico methodology. Why didn't they say so from the start?

Yeah, still not sure what that means, but "attempt to find a cure" is the only thing keeping us going at this point.

In an interview with the New York Stock Exchange, Chebrolu said that she began researching the influenza virus a few years ago for a school project, and she created a novel anti-viral drug against the flu. While she was entering the contest with her flu drug, she decided to switch and focus on the coronavirus when the pandemic hit.

"That's what I did this summer," Chebrolu says. "I found a novel anti-viral out of a database of millions of compounds that can effectively bind to a protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus and provide a potential anti-viral against the COVID-19 pandemic."

Not only did she do that over the summer, but she also started a nonprofit called Academy Aid. She told the exchange she plans to donate part of her cash prize to the nonprofit.

On the other hand, Cheetos are delicious.
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Paige Skinner has written for the Dallas Observer since 2014.
Contact: Paige Skinner