If Professor Sarah Gilbert had followed her instincts, the recent coronavirus vaccine, which has shown very promising results, might never have been created.
Years ago, while studying for a doctorate, Sarah was considering leaving science. When he was a young biology student at the University of East Anglia, the variety of ideas and experiences in the department seemed very impressive to him.
However, after starting his doctoral degree at Hull University, Sarah discovered that she did not like such a narrow specialty.
“There are scientists who, more or less independently, enjoy working in only one field for a long time … I do not like to work like that. I prefer to combine ideas from many different fields,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The Life Scientific this year.
“At some point I was considering leaving science and doing something else.” However, in the end “I decided to give it another chance for a scientific career … I needed income”.
It is thanks to this decision that it was recently announced that, according to the results of a recent pilot study, the Oxford University coronavirus vaccine is very effective in stopping the development of COVID-19 symptoms in infected people. According to interim data, it provides 70% protection, although researchers say that number increases to 90% if the dosage is increased.
Sarah Gilbert was born in April 1962 in Catering, England. His father worked in the shoe business, while his mother was an English teacher and a member of the local amateur opera community.
Speaking on Radio 4 Profile, one of Sarah’s school friends recalls her silent perseverance – a trait that probably sheds light on her decision to continue working at the same doctorate despite years of doubt.
After maintaining quality, Sarah began working at the Beer Brewing Research Center, where she studied the use of yeast in various forms for beer, and later moved into the field of human health. Sarah never planned to specialize in the vaccine. Nevertheless, by the mid-1990s he was engaged in academic activities at the University of Oxford and was studying the genetics of malaria. This led him to work on a malaria vaccine.
Sarah’s life became a little more complicated when she gave birth to twins. His son Freddie says of his mother that he was totally caring and only wanted the best for his children. He said all three children decided to go their own way, although in the end all three chose to study biochemistry at university.