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Oxford vaccine creator Professor Sarah Gilbert wins RSA Albert Medal

Press Release

Professor Sarah Gilbert has won the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) Albert Medal for her work on the Oxford vaccine.   

The lead researcher on the Oxford vaccine team, Professor Gilbert is Professor of Vaccinology in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford. She is the Oxford Project Leader for ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, SARSCoV-2, with approval for use in many countries around the world.  

The RSA Albert Medal is awarded annually to recognise the creativity and innovation of individuals and organisations working to resolve the challenges of our time. Professor Gilbert receives the 2021 honour for her services to collaborative innovation for the global common good. She is the 156th recipient of the medal, which was instituted in 1864 as a memorial to Prince Albert, former President of the Society.  

Previous recipients range from scientists to artists to to leaders to social campaigners: they include Winston Churchill in 1945 for leading the allies to victory; Marie Curie in 1910 for the discovery of radium; Alexander Graham Bell in 1902 for the invention of the telephone; Stephen Hawking in 1999 for improving public awareness of physics; and Tim Berners-Lee in 2002 for the creation of the World Wide Web. Read more here.

 

The Medal will be awarded in a pre-recorded ceremony, which will be broadcast on Wednesday 14 April 2021 at 18.00 BST as part of the RSA’s Living Change campaign.  Media are invited to attend — see contact details below.   

Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford, said:  

“It is a great honour to receive this award. The creation and the development of the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine came after I had worked in this field for many years, learning how to move quickly from a concept to a licensed vaccine, which involves numerous steps along the way. With a great team at Oxford we developed a ‘vaccine for the world’ which is now being used to save lives in many countries; our goal from the very beginning.” 

Matthew Taylor, RSA chief executive, said:  

"The RSA’s Albert Medal celebrates the best in innovation, and the Oxford vaccine is a huge triumph for British creativity, research and development. The path set by Professor Gilbert and her team shows how public, private and philanthropic sectors can collaborate in the public interest.  

“Changemakers in every field, seeking new, more effective approaches to complex global challenges, will draw valuable lessons from the Oxford project. 

“I am delighted Professor Gilbert has accepted this award, joining the ranks of distinguished innovators the RSA has honoured over the past 150 years, from Marie Curie to Stephen Hawking.”  

ends  

BIOGRAPHY:  

Sarah Gilbert is Professor of Vaccinology in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of East Anglia and her doctoral degree at the University of Hull. Following four years as a research scientist at the biopharmaceutical company Delta Biotechnology she joined Oxford University in 1994 and became part of the Jenner Institute (within NDM) when it was founded in 2005. Her chief research interest is the development of viral-vectored vaccines that work by inducing strong and protective T and B cell responses. She works on vaccines for many different emerging pathogens, including influenza, Nipah, MERS, Lassa, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, and in 2020, initiated the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine project. Working with colleagues in the Jenner Institute research labs, the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility and Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine, all situated on the Old Road Campus in Oxford, she is able to take novel vaccines from design to clinical development, with a particular interest in the rapid transfer of vaccines into manufacturing and first in human trials. She is the Oxford Project Leader for ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, SARSCoV-2 with approval for use in many countries around the world.  

CONTACT: 

For any specific queries about the RSA and the medal, including images of Prof. Gilbert and the Albert Medal, please contact: Ash Singleton, ash.singleton@rsa.org.uk. 077 99737 970. 

NOTES: 

The RSA (from August 2020, the royal society for arts, manufactures and commerce) is an independent charity, committed to a future that works for everyone. A future where we can all participate in its creation. 

The RSA has been at the forefront of significant social impact for over 260 years. Our proven change process, rigorous research, innovative ideas platform and diverse global community of over 30,000 problem solvers, deliver solutions for lasting change.  

Legally, the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (‘RSA’) is a Royal Charter Company and registered charity in England and Wales (charity number 212424) and in Scotland (charity number SC037784). 

The Albert Medal

The RSA Albert Medal is awarded annually to recognise the creativity and innovation of individuals and organisations working to resolve the challenges of our time