Hello, Dolly

Feb 19, 2002

Tonight Erin and I attended the Chancellor’s Science Seminar Series presentation by Dr. Ian Wilmut at UNC’s Memorial Hall. Dr. Wilmut led the Roslin Institute research team that created/produced Dolly, the first animal cloned through the use of a cell from an adult animal, and he spoke to a packed auditorium about the technology of cloning. As you’d expect, he talked about the possibilities and the promise of the technology, but he also raised some caution. ”[Cloning] is not a world-threatening technology,” he said, since the cloning of humans, someday, won’t be widespread. Still, he wondered about how parents and the public would treat a clone, since a cloned person would be similar to the original but not exactly the same; a clone of Super Bowl quarterback Kurt Warner would face strong expectations to be a talented quarterback, he surmised. Wilmut also explained the use of cloned animals for xenotransplantation—a liver from a pig put into a human patient, for example—and the promise of embryonic stem cells for treating Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, liver damage and spinal cord injury. In the hour that he spoke, he provided a concise but detailed overview of his work and the work of other scientists to come. ”Looking to the future,” he said, ”we need an ambitious period of research and cautious applications of the technology.”

What do you think about cloning? What about genetic testing and engineering? Sound off by clicking the Comments link.

Anton Zuiker

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