Ian Wilmut

University of Edinburgh


Election Year: 2004
Primary Section: 61, Animal, Nutritional, and Applied Microbial Sciences
Secondary Section: 22, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Membership Type: International Member

Research Interests

My research has been directed to understanding mammalian gametes and embryos and to the use of that knowledge in research, agriculture and medicine. Methods for the deep freeze preservation of mammalian embryos that were developed now offer important opportunities for long term storage and for transport between different laboratories. The importance of epigenetic mechanisms in the molecular regulation of early development was emphasised by experiments in sheep. Use of inappropriate culture media for just 3 days can lead to the birth of unusually large lambs as a result of changes in expression of imprinted genes. Similar perturbations arise if the uterine environment is disturbed through nutritional or endocrine mechanisms. More recently my research has been focused on the factors regulating embryo development after nuclear transfer. This work led to the first birth of live lambs from foetal and adult cells, including Dolly. Subsequently, genetic changes were introduced into sheep by nuclear transfer from modified cultured cells. Present procedures for nuclear transfer are very inefficient because they fail to change gene expression in the transferred nucleus from the pattern associated with the specific donor tissue to that required to control development to term. Current research is designed to overcome these limitations.

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