Krish Wadhwani first started showing an interest in medicine when he was only a child as he worked to make his grandparents’ dream of one day seeing one of their children or grandchildren become a doctor come true.
But as he grew older, working in the medical field began to mean more than making his grandparents proud.
“[The health care field] also gives me the knowledge and resources to help the ones that I’m close to and just society as a whole,” Wadhwani said. “So I really like medicine because it’s a very rewarding career, and it gives me a chance to come out as a leader.”
The Denmark High School junior has already made great strides to begin his career in medicine and make an impact in the overall health care industry.
He has been working for several years now on researching synthetic therapeutics, which is now showing promising signs of eventually leading to a new treatment for dementia patients. Knowing the huge impact a potential treatment could have on patients, he collaborates on the project with research institutions through a nonprofit he started in 2019, HD Solvera.
Through these partnerships, he has had the opportunity not only to take his research into a laboratory and work with medical research professionals, but also to take his research onto a national stage, presenting at the International Healthcare Innovation and Ingenuity Conference and the International Therapeutic Summit.
The Forsyth County News spoke with Wadhwani to find out more about his research, HD Solvera and service projects he leads to help health care centers in the southeast.
Can you tell me a little bit about your non-profit, HD Solvera, and how you got it started?
“I started this non-profit a couple of years ago around May 2019, and it’s a multi-purpose organization where we really focus on three things — conducting research projects and directly assisting health care centers around the area and then a third initiative, which is kind of newer, and that’s providing any kind of monetary support …. to hospitals.
“I have a lot of other high school students focusing on the direct assistance and monetary support and donation initiatives, and I gear most of my attention toward managing and facilitating the non-profit. But I’m also on the research side.”
What do you do on the research side of the nonprofit?
“In the past few years, I have been working on this project where I’ve been biodesigning a synthetic therapy. So a set of synthetic molecules that can treat dementia patients, particularly Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease patients. Throughout the years, I’ve been computationally testing this therapy, and then I actually had the chance to test it at a National Institutes of Health laboratory.
“I’ve been constantly working on it; constantly conducting experiments, and because of the successful results, I have gotten the chance to present at [national conferences]. This gives me a platform to share my research and possibly gain more insights and ideas into how I can improve it.”
Can you tell me more about your research?
“The research that I have been concentrating on is mostly synthetic molecule design, and pretty much what that means is I will be looking at novel compounds from literature that already exist. And then I look at promising features in these molecules, and I design a derivative of certain promising molecules from the literature through a chemical structure editing software.
“Then, the next procedure is determining the properties and whether we can convert this into actual cells, and this allows us to test it at a laboratory.
“Once we test it at a laboratory, we analyze numerous values. There’s a professional term known as ‘mean fluorescence intensity value.’ This value indicates if you’re decreasing disease protein on a cellular site.
“If this value is significant, that means the research would be useful in facilitating a cure, and I had a medical information officer at Johnson & Johnson actually do a statistical significance test for me. And he said that those values I obtained from my data were statistically significant, and I could further advance this to next stages of laboratory or maybe even clinical testing.”
How did you feel when you were asked to present your research on a national stage?
“Knowing that I put so many hours into this work, and then when you finally hear your name in that way …. it feels like, ‘Wow, all of those hours really paid off.’ And my work really has the potential to change thousands and maybe millions of lives. It’s a very rewarding way to top off your work.”
How did you begin to make connections within the health care industry?
“I entered into a competition called the Young Scientist Challenge sponsored by Discovery Education and The 3M Company …. And I presented at The 3M global headquarters, and while presenting there, I met a lot of contacts from different hospitals, research organizations and even people from the Department of Public Health.
“When I presented my research, I asked them how I could improve and if they had any contacts for me. You just have to keep on asking and eventually you’ll build a great network, and then you can receive groundbreaking results just because of the connections you have.
“I wouldn’t be able to do [these experiments] in the basement of my house. I don’t have a laboratory or a $65,000 machine, but with those contacts, I was able to get the resources and gain so much knowledge in the fields of biology, chemistry and medicine.”
What are some service projects you help to manage through HD Solvera?
“The direct assistance initiative at HD Solvera is centered around directly assisting hospitals. So that means I have around 30 members who go out to different health care centers in the metro Atlanta area where they volunteer and dedicate service hours. I serve as a facilitator between the health care center and any high school student who wants [that experience].”
Do you know where you want to go to school after Denmark?
“Obviously, there are schools I want to go, but it all comes down to who is going to accept me. My dream school is Harvard just because they have a very strong biology [program] and they’re renowned for medicine …. I’ve also worked on a research project with students from there, and I just really love the culture.”
Where do you see yourself in your future career?
“[I want] the chance to kind of do what I’ve been doing from an early age and that’s working on research projects and innovative solutions for numerous health care causes, but also having a patient interaction where I get to interact with the health care community directly. Those are the two things I’m very passionate about in the medical field.”
What do you have to share with other local students interested in health care?
“I noticed from the past year that Forsyth County Schools students do not really apply to the Carson Scholarship from Dr. Ben Carson.
“The social media marketing team there probably just hasn’t reached out to our area. But I want to encourage students in grades 4-11 in Forsyth County to apply for this scholarship …. I noticed this year, I was the only one from the county selected for this scholarship, so I want to encourage people from our area to also become a Carson Scholar in future years.
“High schoolers interested in medicine with a medical innovation idea also have the opportunity to apply in January 2022 for the International Therapeutics Summit.”