Working to Affect the Viral Replication of COVID-19 October 4, 2023
Student Research Spotlight
Krishna Chavada (PharmD '24), a native of India, moved with her family to Hahira,
a small town in South Georgia near Valdosta, when she was very young. She lived there
for about 13 years before relocating to Athens, Georgia, where she completed a Bachelor
of Science degree in psychology at the University of Georgia. Ever since taking an
AP psychology class in high school, she has been intrigued by the subject and knew
that she wanted to pursue that as her major.
Chavada said, “I knew health care was the path for me since I had seen my grandmother
deal with chronic bladder disease for as long as I could remember. I chose to become
a pharmacist so I could have a positive impact on patient lives and it has been so
As a fourth year Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) student currently on rotation, she has applied her clinical knowledge to various
fields of pharmacy, ranging from ambulatory care to working at the Food and Drug Administration
to assisting on cancer drug approvals.
She said, “Being in pharmacy school has taught me that there are no limitations. The
world of pharmacy and health care is growing and expanding and there are so many opportunities
to share our knowledge and passion.”
What prompted you to pursue research?
When I first interviewed for the PCOM Georgia School of Pharmacy, I remember asking what research opportunities would be available to me and essentially
that is what drew me to come here. I wanted to make an impact by contributing in a
developing field with research. Working alongside Drs. Rayalam, Mody, and Taval has
been the most impactful part of my pharmacy school journey. These three professors
believed in me and guided me through a journey that has changed my life.
People think that research is just tedious, never-ending work; however, research is
rewarding to me. I originally felt like I didn't have the skillset to be a researcher.
My mentors have taught me that it's all about your mindset and I truly encourage students
to seek out mentors that are willing to guide them. The opportunities are endless
and all it takes is challenging oneself to step up to have the courage to ask. Research
served as a source of exposure that sparked my curiosity and deepened my desire for
In lay terms, what are you studying?
My team and I studied FDA-approved drugs to establish which ones could be repurposed
to inhibit the enzymes 3CLpro and PLpro, the enzymes that affect the viral replication
of COVID-19. We screened more than 4,000 drugs and I was trained to perform experiments
using modern technology. I was given the opportunity to present my research at the
American Chemical Society conference both in San Diego, California (Spring 2022) and
San Juan, Puerto Rico (Fall 2022). I presented my research on how I screened for the
inhibitory effect of Anthraquinone derivatives against SARS-CoV-2 enzymes.
What were your responsibilities in the research project?
Initially, I was responsible for conducting an appropriate literature review for this
project to have a greater understanding of the project's background. After doing so,
I screened through a multitude of FDA-approved drugs to narrow down our search and
used our previous findings that both Aloin A and B were found to selectively inhibit
SARS-CoV-2 PLpro enzyme. Aloin A and B both are naturally occurring Anthraquinone
derivatives hence, we evaluated in vitro enzymatic inhibitory activity of selected
What prompted you to pursue research?
With an abundant number of lives remaining at risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19,
it is urgent to find a safe remedy to control the global pandemic spread. Our studies
give proposal to the beneficial effect of Anthraquinones in the prevention of SARS-CoV-2,
however these studies require further validation in pre-clinical and clinical studies.
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About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands
of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists
who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms.
PCOM operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic
medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and school psychology, and graduate degrees in
applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic
medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, non profit leadership
and population health management, organizational development and leadership, physician
assistant studies, school psychology, and public health management and administration.
PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service
to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care
to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.
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