Ian Wilmut, the British scientist who led the project that cloned a mammal for the first time, Dolly the sheep, died on Sunday at the age of 79. The Roslin Institute, a research center near Edinburgh where Dr. Wilmut had worked for decades, said in a statement that the cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease. From the statement:

Ian Wilmut was born near Stratford-upon-Avon before the family moved to Yorkshire. It was at school in Scarborough that he first became interested in biology. He went to the University of Nottingham, initially to study agriculture, later switching to animal science. His studies continued with a PhD and fellowship at the University of Cambridge, focused on the preservation of semen and embryos by freezing. This work led to the birth of Frostie, the first calf to be born from a frozen embryo.

Dr Wilmut then moved to the Animal Breeding Research Organisation (ABRO), near Edinburgh, the predecessor to the Roslin Institute. He continued to work with reproductive cells and embryos, and contributed to a project to make genetically modified sheep that could produce milk containing proteins used to treat human diseases. This highlighted that a new, more efficient method of developing sheep with these characteristics was needed. He led efforts to develop cloning, or nuclear transfer, techniques that could be used to make genetically modified sheep. It was these efforts which led to the births of Megan and Morag in 1995 and Dolly in 1996. Polly, the first mammal to be both cloned and genetically modified, was born in 1997. Following the success of the cloning research, Dr Wilmut began to focus on using cloning to make stem cells which could be used in regenerative medicine.


Originally Posted at https://slashdot.org/