Ian Wilmut, a pioneer in cloning whose work contributed to making “Dolly the Sheep” possible in 1996, died on September 10, 2023. His work shocked the scientific community which had previously considered mammalian cloning impossible. He was 79 years old when he passed away.
Breaking News: Ian Wilmut, the British scientist who led a team of scientists in Scotland that first cloned a mammal, Dolly the sheep, is dead at 79. https://t.co/xgXHczBFos pic.twitter.com/s6vmAewFnU
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 11, 2023
What is Ian Wilmut’s Cause of Death?
The Roslin Institute, a study centre near Edinburgh where Dr. Wilmut had worked for decades, said in a statement that Parkinson’s disease complication was the reason for his death. His place of death was not specified.
Ian Wilmut, the cloning pioneer whose work was critical to the creation of Dolly the Sheep in 1996, has died at age 79.
The University of Edinburgh in Scotland said Wilmut died Sunday after a long illness with Parkinson’s disease. https://t.co/leisLp9JR5
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 11, 2023
On July 7, 1944, Wilmut was born in Hampton Lucy, Warwickshire, England. Leonard Wilmut, Wilmut’s father, was a mathematics teacher who had battled diabetes for fifty years before going blind. He attended the previous Boys’ High School in Scarborough, where his father was an instructor.
Early on, Wilmut wanted to join the navy, but his colour blindness prevented him from doing so. Wilmut was motivated to pursue a degree in agriculture at the University of Nottingham by his weekend work as a farm hand while still in high school.
Wilmut worked for eight weeks in Christopher Polge’s lab in 1966. Polge is credited with creating the method of cryopreservation in 1949. After enrolling in the University of Cambridge’s Doctor of Philosophy program the following year, Wilmut began working in Polge’s lab.
He earned his degree in 1971 with a thesis on the cryopreservation of semen. He was a postgraduate student at Darwin College in Cambridge at the time.
When Wilmut revealed that his team at the university’s Roslin Institute for Animal Biosciences had successfully cloned a lamb using the nucleus of a cell from an adult sheep, it sparked a debate about the morality of cloning across the globe.
The lamb was given the name Dolly after the singer Dolly Parton after being referred to initially as “6LL3” in the academic paper outlining the operation. The creation of the lamb by cloning marked the first occasion that researchers were able to induce a mature adult cell to behave like a cell from a freshly fertilized egg.
While some scientists hailed Dolly’s creation as a revolution, it alarmed many others with some branding such research as unethical. President Bill Clinton of the United States put a restriction on the use of federal money for human cloning the year after Dolly was made, although he refrained from outlawing all cloning research.
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