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 Thursday, 9 January, 2003, 18:11 GMT
Brigitte Boisselier: Scientific genius or PR guru?
Dr Brigitte Boisselier, AP
Dr Brigitte Boisselier is a qualified chemist
As scientists wait for proof that baby Eve is indeed the world's first human clone, BBC News Online looks at the woman who may or may not have created her.

Dr Brigitte Boisselier was born in France and is a trained scientist.

She holds a master's degree in biochemistry and a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Dijon in France and another Phd in analytical chemistry from the University of Houston in the United States.

She is also a Raelian bishop and the managing director of the world's only human cloning company, Clonaid.

Life on Earth

Clonaid, which will not reveal where its facilities are, was set up in the Bahamas in 1997 by the man who founded the Raelian religious sect.

In December 1973, a French journalist called Claude Vorilhon - or Rael as he is now known - claims he was contacted by an extra-terrestrial being.

The creature emerged from a flying saucer and told him - in fluent French - that humans were created in laboratories by people from another planet 25,000 years ago.

This race of super-intelligent beings was called the Elohim, which in ancient Hebrew means "those who came from the sky" and in Jewish prayers refers to God.

Rael describes the Elohim as being about a metre tall, with pale green skin and long dark hair.

Some estimates suggest that the movement now has up to 55,000 members, who are all preparing for the expected return of the Elohim to Earth.

The Raelians believe that the human soul dies when the body dies.

They believe that the key to eternal life is cloning - recreating individuals from their own genetic make-up.

Industrial chemist

Brigitte Boisselier joined the Raelians in 1992. At this time, she was still working for a French chemical company, Air Liquide.

In 1997, she gave an interview to the French newspaper Le Monde in which she declared she was the scientific director of Clonaid.

According to Air Liquide, she had not informed them of her role at Clonaid and was therefore dismissed from her job as sales manager.

A spokesperson for Air Liquide told BBC News Online that Dr Boisselier worked exclusively on chemical aspects of industrial gases.

She said: "Dr Boisselier never worked on any biological or medical activities."

Later, Dr Boisselier sued the company for religious discrimination and won, according to the company, a small amount of compensation on appeal.

Her personal life was also reportedly troubled.

She lost custody of her youngest daughter to her ex-husband.

Surrogate grandmother

In 1999, Rael handed over the running of Clonaid to Brigitte Boisselier.

Since then she has been in and out of the public eye, and there have been reports of financial irregularities concerning Clonaid, but she has denied them.

Dr Boissellier told BBC News Online that the initial cloning project involved 10 couples - out of whom five women became pregnant with clones.

She said: "I am very pleased with our results. From what we can check, the babies are healthy. Now we are working on 20 more cases."

The success rate is so high, she said, because of the highly skilled technicians that work for the company.

Despite her insistence that genetic tests would be carried out to verify Clonaid's claims, this evidence has so far proved elusive.

But with reports that Dr Boisseller's elder daughter has agreed to carry a cloned baby perhaps then she will provide the scientific community with conclusive proof of human cloning.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  Brigitte Boissellier, chief executive of Clonaid
"There will be one at least shown, and all the tests will be performed"
Human reproductive cloning

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