Barbie debuts doll in likeness of British COVID-19 vaccine developer

An undated handout image of a Barbie doll made in the likeness of Sarah Gilbert, the Oxford University professor who co-designed the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. (University of Oxford via Reuters)


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LONDON — British coronavirus vaccine developer Sarah Gilbert has many science accolades to her credit but now shares an honor with Beyonce, Marilyn Monroe and Eleanor Roosevelt: a Barbie doll in her likeness.

Gilbert, a 59-year-old professor at Oxford University and co-developer of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, is one of six women in the COVID-19 fight who have new Barbies modeled after them.

Toymaker Mattel is recognizing them with a line of Barbie "role model" dolls.

Gilbert's Barbie shares her long auburn hair and oversized black glasses, and she wears a navy blue pantsuit and white blouse.

"It's a very strange concept having a Barbie doll created in my likeness," Gilbert said in an interview for Mattel.

"I hope it will be part of making it more normal for girls to think about careers in science."

Among the honorees are emergency room nurse Amy O'Sullivan who treated the first COVID-19 patient at the Wycoff Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, and Audrey Cruz, front-line doctor in Las Vegas who fought discrimination, according to Mattel.

Other dolls include Chika Stacy Oriuwa, a Canadian psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto who battled systemic racism in health care, and Brazilian biomedical researcher Jaqueline Goes de Jesus, who led sequencing of the genome of a COVID-19 variant in Brazil, the company said.

British coronavirus vaccine developer Sarah Gilbert becomes a Barbie role model to encourage girls into STEM subjects Tuesday.
British coronavirus vaccine developer Sarah Gilbert becomes a Barbie role model to encourage girls into STEM subjects Tuesday. (Photo: Associated Press, YouTube)

Lastly, a doll honors Kirby White, an Australian doctor who pioneered a surgical gown that can be washed and reused by front-line workers during the pandemic.

Gilbert chose nonprofit organization Women in Science & Engineering, dedicated to inspiring girls to consider a career in STEM, to receive a financial donation from the toymaker.

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Lisa Giles-Keddie

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