Development of the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert delivers the RSE President’s event on the incredible work undertaken to create a Covid-19 vaccine.

At the beginning of 2020, the first ‘Disease X’ outbreak, caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2, occurred. Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert will discuss how as vaccine developers, she and her colleagues found themselves attempting to put into place plans that were not yet fully developed. And how rather than working to produce a vaccine which could then be deployed in the ‘outbreak area’, they found themselves attempting to develop a vaccine against a novel pathogen causing a pandemic whilst they were in the grips of that pandemic.

About the RSE signature event

All are welcome to the RSE’s signature events, designed to educate and encourage new thinking, ideas and conversations. This event aims to amplify the RSE’s mission of ‘knowledge made useful’ by enhancing our understanding of national and global scientific, cultural and economic topics.


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Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert
| Photo credit: John Cairns

Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert
Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford

For over fifteen years, Professor Gilbert has been making and testing vaccines. Professor Gilbert joined the Nuffield Department of Medicine at 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 leads the Jenner Institute programme in influenza vaccine development and works on vaccines for many emerging pathogens, including Nipah virus, MERS, Lassa virus and CCHF virus.

Professor Gilbert is currently the Oxford Project Leader for ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, a vaccine against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This vaccine, tested by the University of Oxford in clinical trials of over 23,000 people in the UK, Brazil and South Africa, is now in use in many countries worldwide in the fight against the Covid-19 Pandemic.

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Dr Zahra Rattray

Dr Zahra Rattray
Senior Lecturer in Translational Pharmaceutics at the University of Strathclyde

As a Pharmacist and Pharmaceutical Scientist with experience of working across the community, hospital, pharmaceutical industry and academic sectors, Zahra has been practising for over thirteen years. In this time she has contributed to the AstraZeneca drug development pipeline as a scientist, and later the pre-clinical development of the Patrys Ltd PAT-DX1 portfolio during her postdoctoral position at the Yale School of Medicine Cancer Center.

Dr Rattray joined the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Strathclyde in Fall 2018, where she is currently director for the EPSRC Multiscale Metrology Suite for Next-generation Health Nanotechnologies. Her primary research interests lie in the development of novel biomacromolecular and nanomedicine drug delivery systems for targeting breast, colon and brain cancers using an inter- disciplinary and sector approach.

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Wednesday November 9th, 2022 18:00-19:00


The Royal Society of Edinburgh