Creator of Dolly the Sheep offers Expert View on Cloning

Creator of Dolly the Sheep offers Expert View on Cloning

Media information - 8 December 04

The Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Christmas Lecture is to be given in Pitlochry by Professor Ian Wilmut. A scientist of international distinction, Ian Wilmut is the leader of the team that produced Dolly, the first animal to develop after nuclear transfer (cloning) from an adult cell. In an illustrated public lecture at 6pm in Pitlochry Festival Theatre on December 9th, entitled Why Clone? Cloning in Biology and Medicine, Ian Wilmut will offer an overview of the progress of this technology.

Refreshments available from 5.30pm with a 6pm start. All welcome. Tickets cost £2 (£1 concession) and are available from the Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Port-Na-Craig, Pitlochry, PH16 5DR, Tel. 01796 484 626.

There is much confusion when people see the words clone and cloning. Cloning (also known as nuclear transfer) involves the transfer of the genetic information from a cell to an unfertilised egg, from which the genetic information has been removed. The cloning technique involves several complex steps and is carried out by specialists in the laboratory. The cloning technique is not new. Cloning was first used in 1952 to study early development in frogs. In 1996, Dolly the Sheep was created. Offspring have been produced in several species: sheep, cow, mouse, pig, goat, cat, rat, rabbit and horse. However, despite considerable effort by experienced laboratories, no offspring have been reported from the rhesus monkey or dog. There are many limitations to this technology, but also many potential applications, for example, copying our most productive farm animals and producing organs for transplantation or treating conditions such as spinal cord injury. There are many ethical and moral concerns over the potential applications of cloning technology and some of these will be discussed by Professor Wilmut.

The present objectives of Ian Wilmut's research group are to determine the molecular mechanisms that are important for normal development of cloned embryos and to use that knowledge in biology, medicine and agriculture. Potential applications include the derivation of human cells for therapy, the provision of organs for transplantation and the cloning and modification of animals in agriculture. Ian Wilmut's research has been recognised by the award of an OBE in the Queen's birthday honours of (1999), election to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, (2000), the Royal Society (2002) and election as Foreign Associate of the National Academies of Science, (2004)

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) is a registered educational charity and an independent organisation which is working to promote the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of Scotland. The RSE runs an active educational programme for young people, working in classrooms from the Borders to the Northern Isles. As part of this, Ian Wilmut will also give the RSE's 2004 Christmas Lecture at Pitlochry Festival Theatre on December 9 at 2pm to Standard Grade students studying in and around Pitlochry. This event is free for invited school groups only. The RSE's Young People's Programme which runs throughout the year, includes popular, hands-on weekend science masterclasses for S1& S2 students, maths masterclasses for P7 pupils and topical debates for S5 and S6 students on issues of national and international importance, such as mobile phone safety, cloning, Scotland’s obesity epidemic and Energy.

The RSE's Education Officer, Dr Harinee Selvadurai, said:

Ian Wilmut is an internationally renowned scientist who is at the forefront of his field. His work and that of his research team on Dolly continues to attract interest and admiration from scientists all over the world. Cloning technology has the potential to touch all of our lives in healthcare and farming. I’m delighted that our Christmas lecture is to be given by a speaker of international distinction. No prior knowledge of this science is required and all are welcome to attend this exciting public event at Pitlochry Festival Theatre on December 9th.


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