Dr. Ian Wilmut (born July 7, 1944) is a Scottish embryologist best known as the leader of the team that in 1996, was the first to clone a mammal, a Finn Dorset lamb named Dolly, from fully differentiated adult mammary cells. Wilmut's work, published in February 1997, shocked the scientific community and pushed the concept of cloning into the news and public debate.
Dr. Wilmut was born in Hampton Lucey (near Warwick) in England. His father, David Wilmut, was a math teacher. Wilmut described himself as a pretty average student. He chose to study farming at the University of Nottingham because he wanted to work outdoors. There he discovered that he had no aptitude for the business aspect of commercial farming. Instead, he became interested in research, and obtained a B.Sc. in Agricultural Science.
At Darwin College, Cambridge, Wilmut met researcher Chris Porge who had discovered how to freeze cells in 1949. Wilmut became fascinated with the research. His father had a severe case of diabetes that caused blindness. Wilmut was awarded a Ph.D. in 1971; his subsequent research in Cambridge led to the birth of the first calf from a frozen embryo — "Frosty" — in 1973. He moved to Edinburgh that year and has worked there ever since in the Roslin Institute.
Dr. Wilmut is currently a professor and Head of the Department of Gene Expression and Development at the Roslin Institute. The objectives of his current research are to develop biomedical applications of the nuclear-transfer procedure: these include the provision of modified animal organs and human stem cells for therapy.