Although she didn’t hit the limelight until February 1997 with a publication in Nature, Dolly-the-most-famous-sheep-in-the-world was born 20 years ago, on 5 July 1996 in The Roslin Institute in Edinburgh. Being the first mammal cloned from adult cells by a team led by Ian Wilmut, Dolly changed the way we look at the up-to-then-supposed irreversibility of development and paved the way for many other forms of reprogramming. Despite suffering from several illnesses early in life, including the well-known arthritis, Dolly was eventually humanely put down on 14 February 2003 when she was found to suffer from a viral form of lung cancer. Dolly’s remains are still on view in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Concerns about a potential effect of cloning on premature or accelerated ageing have recently been addressed in a study from the University of Nottingham which shows that 13 cloned sheep, four of which clones from Dolly herself, aged normally.
To celebrate Dolly’s 20th birthday The Roslin Institute is organizing a series of scientific and public events to examine and celebrate her legacy. Public events include a debate in the ‘Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas’ as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, a public lecture and discussion featuring Professor Sir Ian Wilmut, Professor Angelika Schnieke and Noble Prize laureate Professor Shinya Yamanaka in the Surgeon’s Hall Museum in Edinburgh, and a public lecture by Sir Ian at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA. A number of Dolly-related exhibits will also feature at The Roslin Institute Open Day on the 8 October. There will also be a scientific symposium on 2 September in The Roslin Institute Auditorium that will cover the latest advances in research fields that are linked to Dolly: animal biotechnology, stem cell pluripotency and regenerative medicine. Although the main auditorium is now full, it is still possible to register for a seat in adjacent rooms where the talks will be live-streamed.
Submitted by Peter Hohenstein