Borders scientist Ian Wilmut reveals Parkinson’s diagnosis

Professor Sir Ian Wilmut in 2016.
Professor Sir Ian Wilmut in 2016.

The scientist responsible for Dolly the sheep has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and has vowed to help aid research into the condition.

Ian Wilmut, now living in Eddleston, helped create Dolly, the first-ever mammal to be cloned from an adult cell, in 1997. Her birth paved the way for other scientists to work on research into how to cure degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.

Born in Warwickshire and raised in North Yorkshire, Mr Wilmut took up work at Edinburgh University in 2005, later moving to the Borders, where last year he married his neighbour Sara Haddon following the death of his wife 18 months before.

Last week, the 73-year-old announced his diagnosis, saying that he was “happy to act as a guinea pig and either donate tissue or try new treatments” after doctors detected the disease four months ago.

Steve Ford, chief executive of Parkinson’s UK, added: “We admire Sir Ian’s bravery in announcing that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, which can be a difficult step to take.

“Sir Ian joins more than 145,000 people across the UK who are living with Parkinson’s.

“Ian’s honesty on World Parkinson’s Day will not only help to raise awareness of the condition but also heralds a major new Parkinson’s research initiative.

“In leading the team that created Dolly the sheep, Sir Ian’s track record of research success is second to none, and he is held in the highest of esteem by research communities around the world.

“We’re excited about this initiative from the universities of Edinburgh and Dundee as it fits perfectly with our ultimate goal to accelerate Parkinson’s research, improve access to clinical trials and ultimately, find a cure for everyone living with Parkinson’s.”

Mr Wilmut was given the Order of the British Empire in 1999 for services to embryo development and knighted in the 2008 new year’s honours.