Sarah Gilbert


University of Hull alumnus now leading crucial human trials in hunt for COVID-19 vaccine

Crucial medical research and trials which hope to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 are being led by a University of Hull graduate.

Professor Sarah Gilbert, now a professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, completed a PhD in biochemistry at Hull, and now heads up a team in the hunt for a vaccination against the virus.

Human trials are now underway after Prof. Gilbert’s team first began work on a possible vaccination in January.

Prof. Gilbert said: “Since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, my research team has been working on new approaches to vaccine development to protect the population of the world against an outbreak of infectious disease or a pandemic.

“We are now working with a much larger team to bring these plans to fruition.”

After first completing a degree in Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia, Prof. Gilbert moved to the University of Hull to complete her PhD.

While studying in the city, Prof. Gilbert investigated the genetics and biochemistry of the yeast Rhodosporidium toruloides.

She is now playing a vital role in the country’s hunt for a vaccination against COVID-19.

In late April, University of Oxford researchers began testing a COVID-19 vaccine in human volunteers.

The trial will recruit over 500 volunteers, who will receive either the real vaccine or a control injection for comparison.

It is hoped the trials, led by Oxford, will provide valuable information on the safety aspects of the vaccine, as well as its ability to generate an immune response against the virus.

At the same time as conducting the first clinical trial, production of the vaccine is being scaled up ready for larger trials, and potentially, future deployment.

Prof. Gilbert’s work comes as universities across the country use their expertise and resources to help respond to the pandemic.

In Hull, a team of University and Medical School researchers have initiated two international clinical trials for COVID-19.

Our team of engineers also continue to manufacture vital face shields for local NHS and healthcare workers, with the backing of a University crowdfunding campaign.

Vital re-training for former NHS staff returning to the frontline has been provided by the University of Hull, as hundreds of final-year medical, nursing and midwifery students also play their part to support the NHS.

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