14-year-old Indian-American girl wins $25,000 for work on potential covid-19 cure

News Network
October 19, 2020

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Houston, Oct 19: A 14-year-old Indian-American girl has won a USD 25,000 young scientist challenge for a discovery that could provide a potential treatment for Covid-19.

Anika Chebrolu, an eighth-grader from Frisco in Texas, won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, regarded as the US' premier middle school science competition, for her work using in-silico methodology for drug discovery to find a molecule that can selectively bind to the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 virus in an attempt to find a cure for the coronavirus pandemic, according to the 3M Challenge website.

3M is an American manufacturing company based in Minnesota.

Chebrolu decided to take part in the Young Scientist Challenge after she battled a severe influenza infection last year. She wanted to find a cure for influenza. However, that all changed after the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the website said.

“I was drawn towards finding effective cures for influenza disease after a severe bout of the infection last year,” Chebrolu said.

“I would like to learn more from 3M scientists to pursue my drug development and with their help, would like to conduct in-vitro and in-vivo testing of my lead drug candidate,” she said.

Chebrolu was one of the 10 finalists in this year’s 3M Young Scientist Challenge. In addition to the prize money, she was also awarded an exclusive 3M Mentorship.

As a finalist, she worked with 3M Corporate Scientist Dr Mahfuza Ali, who mentored Chebrolu one-on-one throughout the summer. Together, they transformed her idea from concept to reality.

Dr Ali helped Chebrolu perfect her innovation through the scientific method, and she presented her project to a judging panel of scientists and leaders. Each finalist was evaluated on a series of challenges and the presentation of their completed innovation.

"I am extremely humbled at being selected America's Top Young Scientist as all of the finalists had amazing projects and were extremely well-rounded individuals," Chebrolu said.

"Science is the basis of life and the entire universe and we have a long way to go understand it fully," said Chebrolu, who wants to become a medical researcher and professor.

Talking to CNN, Chebrolu said, "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."

Chebrolu said she was inspired to find potential cures to viruses after learning about the 1918 flu pandemic and finding out how many people die every year in the US despite annual vaccinations and anti-influenza drugs on the market.

"Chebrolu has an inquisitive mind and used her curiosity to ask questions about a vaccine for Covid-19," Dr Cindy Moss, a judge for the competition, told CNN.

"Her work was comprehensive and examined numerous databases. She also developed an understanding of the innovation process and is a masterful communicator. Her willingness to use her time and talent to help make the world a better place gives us all hope," Moss said.

Chebrolu said that winning the prize and title of top young scientist is an honour, but her work isn't done.

Her next goal, she says, is to work alongside scientists and researchers who are fighting to "control the morbidity and mortality" of the pandemic by developing her findings into an actual cure for the virus.

"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 told CNN.

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

Denise Rutherford, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs at 3M in his congratulatory message said that amidst the challenges of a global pandemic, quality STEM education for all has become an even more urgent need.

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News Network
December 1,2020

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Mumbai, Dec 1: Actor-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar joined Shiv Sena, in the presence of party president and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday.

Uddhav Thackeray's wife Rashmi Thackeray was also present.

Sena leader and party's MP Sanjay Raut had said on Monday that Urmila Matondkar may join the ranks of the Shiv Sena on December 1.

"She (Urmila Matondkar) may join Shiv Sena tomorrow. She is a Shivsainik. We are happy that she is joining the Shiv Sena. This will strengthen the party's 'mahila aghadi'," Raut told reporters earlier.

Matondkar had last year resigned from the Congress party, a key ally of the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra.

Matondkar had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Lok Sabha election from the Mumbai North constituency and resigned from the party in September last year citing inaction on the part of "key functionaries of Mumbai Congress".

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News Network
December 2,2020

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Bengaluru, Dec 2: In a setback for those who indulge in politics over Hindu-Muslim weddings, the high court of Karnataka has declared that the “right of any major individual to marry the person of his/her choice is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution of India”.

The Karnataka HC division bench comprising Justices S Sujatha Sachin Shankar Magadum, which was dealing with a case involving two software professionals on November 27, added that “the said liberty relating to the personal relationships of two individuals cannot be encroached by anybody irrespective of caste or religion”.

The observations came while disposing of a habeas corpus petition filed by HB Wajeed Khan, a software engineer and resident of Bengaluru, who had approached the court seeking directions to produce Ramya G, a software engineer and colleague, and set her at liberty.

Acting on the court’s directions, Chandra Layout police produced Ramya before the court on November 27. Her parents, Gangadhar and Girija, as well as Wajeed Khan and his mother, Sreelakshmi, were present.

Ramya told the court she was staying at NGO Mahila Dakshatha Samithi, Vidyaranyapura, following a complaint lodged by her with the Janodaya Santwana Kendra, a family dispute resolution forum set up by the department of women and child welfare development. Ramya had alleged that her parents were infringing on her right to liberty by opposing her marriage to Wajeed.

Wajeed’s mother Sreelakshmi said she had no objection to the marriage but Ramya’s parents had not consented. Recording the statements, the bench noted that the scope of a habeas corpus petition was limited to producing the alleged detenue before the court.

“Ramya G, being a software engineer, is capable of taking a decision regarding her life. The Mahila Dakshata Samithi is directed to release her forthwith,” the bench observed.

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Agencies
November 20,2020

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New Delhi, Nov 20: A Delhi Court on Friday extended the judicial custody of JNU scholar Umar Khalid and research scholar Sharjeel Imam, accused in the Delhi riots case, till November 23.

Both the accused, arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, were produced before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat through video conferencing at the end of their judicial remand.

The case against the duo pertains to a 'conspiracy' to incite the riots, which had left 53 people dead and 748 injured. In the case filed against Khalid, the police had claimed that the communal violence was a premeditated conspiracy allegedly hatched by Khalid and others.

On November 6, the Delhi government had given sanction to Delhi Police for prosecution of Khalid. On receiving prosecution sanction against Khalid from Delhi government as well as Home Ministry, the Delhi Police can now name him in their supplementary chargesheet.

To prosecute the accused under Section 13 of the UAPA, the Delhi Police needed sanction from the MHA and under Sections 16, 17 and 18 from the Delhi government.

The Delhi Police has filed a 17,500-page chargesheet against 15 persons for "propagating violence" during the riots. The chargesheet were filed under the UAPA, Arms Act, and the Indian Penal Code.

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