Dolly the Sheep gets own blue plaque to celebrate ten unsung heroes of science

Dolly the Sheep (1996-2003), the first animal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell, will be honoured with her own blue plaque as one of 10 “unsung heroes” of science across the United Kingdom.

The ceremony will take place on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015, in the main reception of the Roslin Institute, part of the University of Edinburgh.

Sir Ian Wilmut, who headed the Dolly project, will be making a short speech.

The plaque will read: “Dolly the Sheep, 1996-2003. First mammal to be cloned from an adult cell.”

Wilmut and Dolly

Sir Ian and Dolly.

The blue plaques are being placed across the UK as part of the Biology: Changing the World project, developed by the Society of Biology and the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council), with funding from the Heritage Lottery.

The Society says that all the ten ceremonies, which will be taking place during February and March, are free to attend and will last for about 30 to 45 minutes.


The Dolly the Sheep ceremony is fully booked, but if you would like to attend any of the others, you can contact Anita Sedgewick ([email protected]).

Dolly was born on July 5th, 1996. She died from progressive lung disease at the age of 6 years and 7 months. Several sources, including the BBC and Scientific American have called her “the world’s most famous sheep.”

Dolly was cloned from a mammary gland cell. Sir Ian and his team proved that it was possible to recreate a whole individual from a cell taken from a specific part of the body.

Dolly had three mothers

Dolly had three mothers. One provide the egg, the other the generic material (DNA), and the third carried the cloned embryo to term.

She was created using a technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer. The cell nucleus from an adult cell is transferred into a developing egg cell (unfertilized oocyte) that has had its cell nucleus removed. An electric shock is applied to the hybrid cell to stimulate it to divide.

Cloning Dolly

The cloning process that created Dolly (Image Source: Wikipedia)

When it develops into a blastocyst (very early embryo) it is implanted into a surrogate mother.

The Biological Society has issued a free app, which is available in Apple and Android stores. It uses your location to tell you which great biologists lived and worked in the vicinity, plus the biological discoveries that were made in the area.

Animals have been honoured before. Nipper, the black and white dog that appeared in the HMV logo, was immortalized with a blue plaque in Piccadilly, London.

Reference: “Blue Plaque Unveilings,” The Society of Biology.

Video – Sir Ian Wilmut talking about the Dolly experiment

Sir Ian describes the Dolly experiment. Why he and his team did it, how they did it, what it achieved, and how it has helped in the study of a particular type of human disease.