Ian Wilmut, scientist who led the team that cloned Dolly the Sheep, dies

The British scientist died at the age of 79. The University of Edinburgh said his work was a great contribution to the global scientific community.

Ian Wilmut, the scientist who led the cloning team for the creation of Dolly the Sheep in 1996, has died at the age of 79. This was confirmed by the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, which published an obituary highlighting Wilmut's contributions to the scientific community.

"A world-renowned embryologist and specialist in regenerative medicine, Sir Ian led the team that cloned Dolly the Sheep in 1996 – the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell. Some 27 years on, the breakthrough continues to fuel many of the advances in the field of regenerative medicine today," wrote the University of Edinburgh on its official website.

Dolly's cloning transformed the scientific thinking of the time by demonstrating that specialized cells could be used to create an exact copy of the animal from which they came.

"His reach was global. He led back in the 1980s the team that produced Dolly from which so much has come to the Institute, the University of Edinburgh, and indeed to science in general. We have lost one of the best known science pioneers," said Professor Bruce Whitelaw, director of the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh.

As reported by the Daily Mail, Wilmut passed away "five years after revealing Parkinson's diagnosis - the condition the cloned animal offered hope of curing."