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The University of Oxford has secured a critical professorship in vaccinology for the future following a gift of £3.33 million from the Saïd family. The gift will enable Professor Sarah Gilbert, the inaugural post holder, to continue her ground-breaking research in the field, while also helping to ensure that Oxford remains at the forefront of vaccine development for generations to come.

Professor Gilbert has 25 years of experience in the development of vaccines against malaria, influenza and emerging and re-emerging viral pathogens, including Lassa, Nipah and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). In 2018 she began preparing for “Disease X”, the World Health Organisation’s term for a hypothetical, unknown pathogen that could cause a future epidemic. This preparation proved essential when, in January 2020, reports from China alerted the world to a new viral threat.

The genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 was released on 11 January and later that same day, Professor Gilbert and her team began designing Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine: ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. Underpinned by Professor Gilbert’s research into vaccines that work by inducing strong and protective T cell responses, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 became the first COVID-19 vaccine to enter into Phase III clinical trials. Professor Gilbert is currently working with the Oxford Vaccine Group, teams within the Jenner Institute and a network of international collaborators to test its efficacy in over 20,000 trial participants around the world.

The full story is available on the University of Oxford's Development Office website