Professor who helped create COVID vaccine among women honored as Barbie dolls

Posted at 4:41 PM, Aug 04, 2021

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — A professor who led the development of one of the world’s COVID-19 vaccines is among six front-line medical workers who are being honored as Barbie dolls.

Mattel has debuted a doll of Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology who led the development of the University of Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine in the U.K. The toy features Gilbert’s long red hair, black glasses, and navy pantsuit.

Gilbert said she thought being made into a Barbie doll was strange, but she hopes it will help inspire young girls to pursue math and science careers, CBS News reports.

“Barbie recognizes that all frontline workers have made tremendous sacrifices when confronting the pandemic and the challenges it heightened,” said Lisa McKnight, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Barbie & Dolls, Mattel. “To shine a light on their efforts, we are sharing their stories and leveraging Barbie’s platform to inspire the next generation to take after these heroes and give back. Our hope is to nurture and ignite the imaginations of children playing out their own storyline as heroes.”

The other women being made into dolls are Amy O’Sullivan, RN of the United States, Dr. Audrey Sue Cruz of the United States, Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa of Canada, Dr. Jaqueline Goes de Jesus of Brazil, and Dr. Kirby White of Australia.

O’Sullivan is an emergency room nurse who treated the first COVID-19 patient in Brooklyn at the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center. The nurse became ill and was intubated, but a few weeks later, she returned to work to continue taking care of others.

Cruz is a frontline worker from Las Vegas who joined forces with other Asian-American physicians to fight racial bias and discrimination during the pandemic.

Oriuwa is a psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto who has advocated against systemic racism in health care.

Goes de Jesus is a biomedical researcher who is credited with leading the sequencing of the genome of a COVID-19 variant in Brazil.

Lastly, White is a general practitioner who co-founded the Gowns for Doctors initiative by developing a PPE gown that could be laundered and reused, allowing front-line workers in Victoria to continue seeing patients during the pandemic.

The dolls are one-of-a-kind, so they’re not available for purchase at this time.

Along with the one-off dolls, Mattel also announced Wednesday that it will donate $5 for each eligible Barbie doctor, nurse, and paramedic doll sold at Target to the First Responders Children’s Foundation (FRCF).