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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 December 2007, 00:22 GMT
Dolly the sheep creator knighted
Ian Wilmut
Prof Wilmut says research holds promise of treatment for ill patients
Professor Ian Wilmut, the scientist who created Dolly the sheep through genetic cloning, has been knighted in the New Year Honours list.

Prof Wilmut, 63, said he was "surprised and delighted" by his knighthood and stressed that it was a recognition to be shared by his research colleagues.

As a boy, his early ambition was to go to sea - either in the Royal Navy or the merchant service.

But colour-blindness foiled his plan and led instead to a career in science.

Scotland's best known scientist, Prof Wilmut became interested in farming and began working on farms at weekends at the age of 14.

This led him to study agriculture at Nottingham University in anticipation of becoming a dairy farmer until a summer holiday working in a science laboratory led to a lifelong interest in embryology.

'Revolutionising biology'

Prof Wilmut and his team at the Roslin Institute, near Edinburgh, created Dolly in 1996 and unveiled her publicly early in 1997.

After she became a worldwide sensation, Prof Wilmut told the US Academy of Achievement website: "The fact that the whole animal comes from a single cell is really an extraordinary thing, and it's fascinating to try to understand it more.

"But back then it was simply wanting to understand how to improve milk production, how to improve fertility, and the collection of milk."

Last month, Prof Wilmut announced that he was abandoning the cloning of human embryos in stem cell research in favour of a new technique developed in Japan.

Dolly the sheep
The cloned sheep was an international sensation in 1997

The citation for his knighthood credits Prof Wilmut with "revolutionising" biology through the cloning technique which underpins the science of stem cell technology.

The citation also says he has shown an "outstanding" commitment to bringing the benefits of basic science to medical treatment.

His role at the Roslin Institute in cloning Dolly the sheep, the world's first clone from an adult cell, led to an OBE in 1999 and he has been elected a fellow of five scientific academies worldwide.

Prof Wilmut now heads the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine at Edinburgh University, which brings together experts from the Institute for Stem Cell Research and scientists and clinicians from Edinburgh University's medical school.

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