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Reprogramming Cells

A conversation with Sir Ian Wilmut

49 minutes
Sir Ian Wilmut


Sir Ian Wilmut discusses how an interest in agriculture led him to research on nuclear transfer in embryos, how that lead to cloning Dolly, and his current work on stem cells and disease. He explains the differences between induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells and embroyonic stem cells and when he thinks clinical trials with stem cell will be running.

See his Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa 2011 keynote lecture here.

Sir Ian Wilmut obtained a B.Sc. in agricultural science at the University of Nottingham before studying at the University of Cambridge, where he was awarded a Ph.D. in 1971. His subsequent research in Cambridge led to the birth of the first calf from a frozen embryo — “Frosty” — in 1973. Dr. Wilmut is the former head of the Department of Gene Expression and Development at the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh, Scotland. He is uniquely qualified both as a pioneer in the science of cloning and as a participant in the public discussions of its possible social and ethical consequences. Dr. Wilmut is the leader of the team that produced Dolly the sheep in 1996, the first animal to be cloned from an adult cell. Dr. Wilmut’s own research focuses on the cloning of human embryos to provide stem cells for treatment of degenerative disorders such as diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

In 2000, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the highest Scottish society of learning, and in the previous year was made a member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. Other awards include a fellowship in the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran Prize, the Sir John Hammond Memorial Prize of the Society for the Study of Fertility, the Sir William Young Award of the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland, and the Research Medal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England. In addition to Dr. Wilmut’s many research papers, he has written a large number of articles on the subject of cloning, including pieces for Time, New Scientist, and Scientific American. He has also authored two books on the subject, The Second Creation: Dolly and the Age of Biological Control and After Dolly: The Uses and Misuses of Cloning.