Ian Sample in The Guardian:
At the heart of Oxford’s effort to produce a Covid vaccine are half a dozen scientists who between them brought decades of experience to the challenge of designing, developing, manufacturing and trialling a safe vaccine at breakneck speed.
Prof Sarah Gilbert, the Kettering-born project leader, arrived at Oxford in 1994 to work with Prof Adrian Hill, a senior member of the team, on the malaria parasite, plasmodium. She soon fell into work on experimental vaccines, starting with one that roused white blood cells to fight malaria, followed by a “universal” flu vaccine.
As a student, Gilbert is said to have knitted cardigans with dogs on and played her saxophone in the woods to avoid disturbing her neighbours. As a researcher at Oxford, she gained a no-nonsense reputation, which some attribute in part to her raising triplets, though her husband gave up work to parent them.
Oxford’s coronavirus work built on research pioneered by Hill and Gilbert on vaccines based on a virus that causes common colds in chimpanzees.