|(1944 - )
Scottish embryologist who in 1996, was the first to clone a mammal, a Finn Dorset lamb named Dolly, from fully differentiated adult mammary cells. Wilmut's work, published in 1997, pushed the concept of cloning into the news and public debate.
Wilmut, born in Hampton Lucey, England, attended the University of Nottingham for his undergraduate work. In 1971 he received a Ph. D. in animal genetic engineering from Darwin College of University of Cambridge. In 1974, he joined the Animal Research Breeding Station in Scotland, which is now known as the Roslin Institute, and has conducted research there ever since.
Wilmut's thesis at Darwin College was on the freezing of boar semen. In 1973, he created the first calf ever produced from a frozen embryo, which he named Frosty.
In the mid 1980's while working on a project involving the insertion of genes into sheep embryos, Wilmut heard a rumor of Steen Willadsen's unpublished success of cloning cattle from differentiated embryo cells. After confirming the rumor, he turned his attention to the process of cloning, which was a much easier alternative to the laborious task and high failure rate of manually inserting genes into embryos.
In 1990, Wilmut hired cell cycle biologist Keith Campbell to assist in his cloning studies. Their work produced its first success with the 1995 birth of Megan and Morag, two Welsh mountain sheep cloned from differentiated embryo cells. In their success, Wilmut and Campbell pioneered a new technique of starving embryo cells before transferring their nucleus to fertilized egg cells. The technique synchronized the cell cycles of both cells and their results led Wilmut and Campbell to believe that any type of cell could be used to produce a clone.
On July 5, 1996, Wilmut and Campbell used the same process to produce the first clone from adult cells, a Finn Dorset lamb named Dolly, after Dolly Parton. The announcement rocked the scientific community as well as the public, and kicked off a large-scale debate on the ethics and direction of cloning research.
Wilmut, who states that he sees no reason for the pursuit of the first cloning of a human, conducts his research with the hopes of producing animals that act as manufacturing plants for valuable human proteins, which are costly and difficult to produce in large amounts elsewhere.
Copyright 1998 by team 24355 and Kayotic Development.