Uni pal of of vaccine queen Sarah Gilbert recalls guzzling wine from lab flasks

Pic of Sarah Gilbert with fellow students, taken nearly 40 years before she led team that developed AstraZeneca jab has been shared (Image: PA)

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Vaccine queen Sarah Gilbert is pictured with fellow biology students nearly 40 years before she led the Oxford University team that developed the AstraZeneca jab.

The photo was shared by Professor Gilbert’s former coursemate as it emerged the vaccine pioneer, 59, will get a damehood in the Queen’s birthday honours.

And the snap of the microbiologists’ Christmas meal in 1982, is among several memories Dr Emily Gardner recalls from studying with Prof Gilbert at University of East Anglia.

“I do remember one occasion where wine was drunk from lab flasks to celebrate the end of exams,” said the 58-year-old from Ealing, West London. “I don’t know how much wine you could fit in one but it was quite a lot.”

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Snap of the microbiologists’ Christmas meal at University of East Anglia, showing Dr Emily Gardner and Prof Gilbert

Dr Gardner also has fond memories of lively meals with the future Prof Gilbert and her classmates at the now-closed Pedro’s restaurant in Norwich.

She added: “Around 15 of us including me and Sarah chose to specialise in microbiology in our third year and we were quite a close-knit group. Sarah had a quiet authority and was absolutely clear when she talked – and she is the same when you see her speak now.”

Prof Gilbert is one of 1,129 people to be recognised on the list, along with former vaccine taskforce chair Kate Bingham.

Dr Gardner, a research fellow at University College London, added: “It’s no surprise to hear of Sarah’s success.

“It was obvious she was going to do great things.

“The pandemic has really brought science in general – and biology and diagnostic testing and vaccine science – into the spotlight. As a scientist, I’m thrilled.”

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