College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

20 years of Dolly the Sheep

People are being invited to share their memories of Dolly the Sheep as part of celebrations to mark the twentieth anniversary of her birth.

Sir Ian Wilmut and Dolly the Sheep

Dolly was the first animal to be cloned from an adult cell, capturing imaginations across the world.

Members of the public – including scientists involved in Dolly’s creation – are being asked to share their reflections on the world’s most famous sheep.

The project aims to record people’s ongoing hopes for what the research might achieve as well as their personal memories of Dolly.

World first

Dolly’s birth turned scientific thinking at the time on its head. She proved that cells from anywhere in the body could be made to behave like a newly fertilised egg – something that scientists previously thought was impossible.

When Dolly was born we were excited to see that she had a white face because that meant that the experiment had worked. She was cloned from a Finn Dorset which has a white face but both the egg and surrogate mother were Scottish Black-face ewes.

Bill RitchieEmbryologist, The Dolly Project

Stem cells

The breakthrough paved the way for researchers to develop methods of producing stem cells from adult cells, offering hope of therapies for a wide-range of diseases.

When Dolly was born we knew that we had achieved something extraordinary. But I don’t think any of us would have predicted the level of public interest in our research, or that people would still be enthralled by Dolly and her legacy twenty years later.

Professor Sir Ian WilmutEmeritus Professor, University of Edinburgh

GM animals

Dolly 20 Years artwork

Dolly was produced at The Roslin Institute in Midlothian – now part of the University of Edinburgh. The goal of the research was to develop methods of introducing genetic changes into animals.

Twenty years later, researchers at Roslin are building on Dolly’s legacy by using the latest gene-editing technologies to alter animals’ DNA. Their aim is to improve the health and welfare of farmed animals.

Memory bank

One of the vets who cared for Dolly during her life said that Dolly was more like a dog than a sheep in many ways.

She would come when you called her name. Mostly because she knew there might be a treat involved. We had to put her on a diet at one point as she had so many visitors, she was becoming quite fat.

Tim KingDolly's vet, now Deputy Head of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Share your memory

Anyone can submit their memory of Dolly by visiting the Dolly at 20 website.

Dolly at 20

I was at a wedding in the Highlands when Dolly was born and received the news by fax. We were supposed to keep the news quiet until the study was published but I couldn’t help myself. We had an extra celebration that night.

Karen WalkerEmbryologist, The Dolly Project

Scientific Symposium

To mark the 20th anniversary of the birth of Dolly the Sheep, The Roslin Institute and MRC Centre for Regeneratve Medicine will be hosting a scientific symposium exploring the legacy of the research which produced her. 

The symposium will include a series of discussion sessions chaired by Professor David Hume, Professor Bruce Whitelaw, Professor Ian Chambers and Professor Stuart Barnes respectively.

View the symposium programme

Register for the symposium

Museum star

Dolly the Sheep will be returning to display from Friday 8 July at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. She will be one of 3000 objects being unveiled in ten new galleries devoted to science, technology, decorative art, design and fashion.

Related links

Dolly Memories

Dolly at 20

The Roslin Institute