The British woman, who leads the race for a coronavirus drug, says she is trying so hard to make a breakthrough that she has no energy when she gets home
- Sarah Gilbert of Oxford University is trying to develop a Covid-19 vaccine
- If successful, the Oxford team will be in the running to win a Nobel Prize
She is the British woman who leads the race to save the world from the corona virus. However, this 58-year-old mother of triplets is unlikely to take on the most pressing job in the world.
Sarah Gilbert is the brilliant professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, whose team is leading the development of the first vaccine to protect against Covid-19. If they are successful, they will surely fight for a Nobel Prize through their performance.
Sarah Gilbert, pictured at Oxford University, is concerned about the United States' approach to solving the Covid 19 crisis
Professor Gilbert is one of the UK's leading experts in the development of a Covid-19 vaccine
Prof. Gilbert's academic excellence was evident from a young age, but despite her obvious talent for science as a student at Kettering High School, a girl's grammar in Northamptonshire, she never applied to Oxbridge – because no one suggested doing so.
The oldest of three children, her father Clifford, was a contract clerk and her mother Hazel worked as an acting teacher. Her daughter inherited her love of music and played in a local youth orchestra. Perhaps significant, her instrument – the oboe – traditionally sets the note to which other instruments are tuned.
Although all Gilbert children had passed 11-plus, continuing education at this time was not an automatic choice for the emerging middle classes. Sarah's parents were ambitious but not familiar with the university application process, which included a separate exam for Oxbridge.
Prof. Gilbert said to The Mail on Sunday: "I remember that most of us only found out that there was a separate application process for Oxford and Cambridge when two girls from upper middle-class families were called to the principal's office, to take the entrance exams.
"No one else was encouraged to apply, or even told why they wanted it or how to do it." She added, "I remember an inspiring biology teacher, Ms. Slater, but teaching other subjects wasn't great." In 1989 she studied at the University of East Anglia and graduated with a BSc in Biological Science. Her two daughters Susannah and Caitlin, who went to Oxford, and son Freddie, who was in Bath, all studied biochemistry. Back home now, the 21-year-old was included in the vaccination study as a guinea pig.
It was 1994 before Sarah reached Oxford and secured a postdoctoral position in malaria and then vaccine development.
She and her husband, his colleague Rob Blundell, faced a difficult decision four years later when Prof. Gilbert gave birth to the triplets prematurely. "Kindergarten fees would have cost more than my total postdoctoral income, so my partner had to sacrifice his own career to look after our children," she said in her biography on the Jenner Institute website in Oxford.
Now she is leading the search for a Covid-19 vaccine and is clearly happy about the challenge. She gets up at 4 a.m., rides to work on a bike and does not come home until 8 p.m.
As she told The Daily Telegraph: “My husband did all the shopping and cooking. I just go home and sit down and there is food. I would not have the energy to cook something myself. & # 39; On the hunt for a Covid 19 vaccine, she added: “I thought about it and planned it. It's really great to do these things and have the funding to finally do it and move forward at the speed we know we can move. & # 39; Her brother Tom, 56, a country hotel manager, said to The Mail on Sunday: “In retrospect, the university has always been likely for her and I am sure that she was able to go to Oxford or Cambridge from the start. It's a shame that she never got a chance. But look at it now. She and her team will really save us all and the economy if this works. & # 39; His only regret is that her parents, who divorced after the children left and both have died in the past five years, have never witnessed the vital search their daughter is now engaged in.
He said, "I know my parents were very proud when they graduated, and even more when they became a professor at Oxford.
& # 39; How much more now? Pride is what we all feel for them. & # 39;