Dolly at 20

by Nicola Stock, Public Engagement Officer, Roslin Institute

Image courtesy of the Roslin Institute

2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the birth of Dolly the Sheep, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell.

She was born at The Roslin Institute on 5th July 1996 as the result of research led by Professor Sir Ian Wilmut and shattered the dogma that the DNA of specialised cells such as nerve cells was in a fixed state and could not be used to create a new organism. Today, Dolly is a worldwide scientific icon and widely recognised as the stepping stone between Professor Sir John Gurdon’s cloning experiments in frogs in 1958 and the development of induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, by Professor Shinya Yamanaka, announced in 2006. The cloning method which produced Dolly is now used around the world to clone valuable animals, including members of endangered species.

Of course, the impact of Dolly’s birth reached far beyond the scientific world and sparked political, religious and philosophical debates from the US Congress to the Vatican. Items associated with the research which created Dolly can be found in cultural institutions including the Science Museum in London and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery while Dolly herself will be a star of the National Museum of Scotland’s new Explore galleries when they open later this year.

In the fast-paced and ever-evolving world of scientific research, it’s amazing that a single sheep born two decades ago can still inspire curiosity and passionate debate to this day. The Roslin Institute and the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh are marking this special anniversary year with a programme of exciting events as part of our Dolly@20 celebrations – look out for more information soon!

Image courtesy of the Roslin Institute