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Sheep Cloning Pioneer Dies in U.K.

Dolly the sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal

Photo by Getty Images.

One of the pioneers of cloning has died.

Keith Campbell, a British cell biologist who helped lead the team that created the cloned sheep Dolly, has passed away at the age of 58.

Campbell began researching animal cloning while at the Roslin Institute in 1991. He believed that the manipulation of embryonic cells in animals could lead to important breakthroughs that might produce medicine and organs that could be transplanted into humans.

His career reached its peak in 1996 with the creation of Dolly, grown from a mammary gland that Campbell’s team fused with another sheep’s egg. Because she started as a mammary cell, Dolly was, naturally, named after country singer Dolly Parton.

The birth of Dolly touched off an avalanche of media attention and criticism. Animal rights groups and religious institutions were furious over the manipulation and the U.N. called on its members to outlaw human cloning, a notion that Campbell himself opposed.  As for Dolly, she was euthanized in 2003 after suffering from lung problems and arthritis, but her stuffed remains can be visited at a museum in Scotland.