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Ian Wilmut, a British scientist who led the team that cloned Dolly the Sheep, dies at age 79

Ian Wilmut, the cloning pioneer whose work was critical to the creation of Dolly the Sheep in 1996, has died, the University of Edinburgh in Scotland said Monday. He was 79.

Wilmut set off a global discussion about the ethics of cloning when he announced that his team at the university’s Roslin Institute for animal biosciences had cloned Dolly using the nucleus of a cell from an adult sheep.

It marked the first time that a genetically identical mammal was created from an adult cell and spurred questions about the potential cloning of humans.

Wilmut later focused on using cloning techniques to make stem cells that could be used in regenerative medicine.

“With the sad news today of Ian Wilmut’s passing, science has lost a household name,’’ Bruce Whitelaw, the director of the Roslin Institute, said. “Ian led the research team that produced the first cloned mammal in Dolly. This animal has had such a positive impact on how society engages with science, and how scientists engage with society.’’

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