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Coming of Age: The Legacy of Dolly at 20

The symposium held on September 2nd at The Roslin Institute was an excellent example of how one scientific breakthrough can influence existing and emerging research fields.

Ian Wilmut and others at the Dolly at 20 symposium

As part of this year’s anniversary celebrations of Dolly’s 20th birthday, The Roslin Institute in collaboration with the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, organised a scientific symposium to reflect on Dolly’s legacy and the wider impact that the research that led to Dolly has had on science and society.

The organisers were delighted to welcome over 260 delegates from across Europe, the US, and our own vibrant community of Edinburgh scientists and students. The event sold out two months in advance of the registration deadline.

All participants enjoyed a day packed with fascinating talks and a lively poster session. The symposium was opened by the Principal of the University of Edinburgh, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, and kicked off with a keynote lecture by Professor Sir Ian Wilmut. He described how Dolly was brought to life and how research on somatic cell nuclear transfer was guided by the early work of embryologists on fundamental questions of heredity and pluripotency. Three scientific sessions with outstanding speakers followed Sir Ian’s talk. Highlights included the amazing progress that has been made in the engineering of livestock animals using genome editors, the molecular discovery and regulation of factors that determine pluripotency, and the translation of this knowledge into regenerative medicine –scientific breakthroughs that were inconceivable 20 years ago!

The organisers were particularly honoured to host Professor Shinya Yamanaka, the Nobel Prize Laureate for Physiology or Medicine 2012, who discovered induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells ten years after Dolly’s birth. Professor Yamanaka gave an inspiring talk in which he described the challenges he faced as a young investigator to find funding for his work on iPS cells which is now progressing to the clinic for the treatment of multiple human diseases.

A key objective of the symposium was to attract and inspire the next generation of scientists. Thanks to the support of The Genetics Society 30 undergraduates received funding to attend the event. Furthermore, the event was streamed live to our overflow rooms as well as to our partners in the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH) at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya. Recorded videos of all the presentations will be available on the internet soon. Dolly’s legacy lives on!

Andreas Lengeling, Chair ‘Coming of Age: The Legacy of Dolly at 20’ Organising Committee

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