Viral Replication of COVID-19 | Student Research at PCOM Georgia
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Working to Affect the Viral Replication of COVID-19 
Student Research Spotlight

October 4, 2023

PCOM Georgia student Krishna Chavada smiling in front of a COVID research posterKrishna 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 rewarding.”

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 knowledge. 

Pharmacy student Krishna Chavada working in a PCOM Georgia research labIn 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 26 Anthraquinones. 

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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