|Sir Ian Wilmut|
|Born||7 July 1944
Hampton Lucy, England
|Alma mater||University of Nottingham
University of Cambridge
|Notable awards||1997 Time man of the year runner up |
Sir Ian Wilmut, OBE (born 7 July 1944) is an English embryologist and is currently Director of the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He is best known as the leader of the research group that in 1996 first cloned a mammal from an adult somatic cell, a Finnish Dorset lamb named Dolly. He was granted an OBE in 1999 for services to embryo development. In December 2007 it was announced that he would be knighted in the 2008 New Year Honours.
Wilmut was born in Hampton Lucy, Warwickshire, England. Wilmut's father, Leonard Wilmut, was a mathematics teacher who suffered from diabetes for fifty years eventually causing blindness. He was a student of the former Boys' High School, in Scarborough, where his father taught. Wilmut's early desire was to embark on a naval career, but he was unable to do so due to his colour blindness. As a school boy, Wilmut worked as a farm hand on weekends, which inspired him to study Agriculture at the University of Nottingham.
During the summer of 1966 Wilmut spent 8 weeks working in the laboratory of Christopher Polge, who is credited with developing the technique of cryopreservation in 1949. The following year, Wilmut joined Polge's laboratory to undertake a research PhD, from which he graduated in 1971. Wilmut has since been involved in research focusing on gametes and embryogenesis including working at the Roslin Institute.
Wilmut was the leader of the research group that in 1996 first cloned a mammal, a lamb named Dolly. when she died in 2003 he said that it was because of a respiratory disease and not that she was a clone. However, in 2008 Wilmut announced that he is to abandon the technique of nuclear transfer by which Dolly was created in favour of an alternative technique developed by Shinya Yamanaka. This method has been used in mice to derive pluripotent stem cells from differentiated adult skin cells, thus circumventing the need to generate embryonic stem cells. Wilmut believes that this method holds greater potential for the treatment of degenerative conditions such as Parkinson's disease and to treat stroke and heart attack patients.
Wilmut has been accused of accepting disproportionate credit for his contribution to the development of Dolly. Former employees of the Roslin Institute claim that Wilmut is “self-confessed charlatan” who “apparently lacks adequate scientific understanding”. These employees, who were not directly involved in the creation of Dolly, have signed a petition for the Queen to withdraw Wilmut's knighthood. Indeed, Wilmut admits to having played only a supervisory role in the creation of Dolly, crediting his colleague Keith Campbell with "66 per cent" of the work. This supervisory role however is consistent with the post of principal investigator held by Wilmut at the time of Dolly's creation.
Prof Wilmut currently holds the post of Chair of Reproductive Biology at the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Edinburgh and in 2008 was knighted in the New Year Honours for "services to science".
Dr. Ian Wilmut (born 1944-07-07) is an English embryologist best known as the leader of the group that in 1996 first cloned a mammal, a sheep named Dolly, from fully differentiated adult mammary cells.