Sir Ian Wilmut, who led the team that cloned Dolly the sheep in 1996, has died at the age of 79. This was announced by the University of Edinburgh, where the scientist worked as a professor until his retirement, writes Engadget.

Dolly became the first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell. This achievement attracted the attention of the scientific world and helped pave the way for modern research in the field of regenerative medicine.

However, Dolly’s cloning also provoked controversial reactions in society. For example, many people wondered: “If they’re already cloning sheep, how long before they clone humans?” At the same time, religious groups accused the researchers of “playing God.”

Nevertheless, this did not stop the scientist. His next experiment proved that animals can not only be cloned, but also altered. Polly, born in 1997, became the first genetically modified cloned mammal.

Sir Ian Wilmut’s next experience was in the use of cloning to create stem cells for regenerative medicine.

In 2008, the scientist was knighted and retired in 2012. According to The Guardian, Sir Ian is survived by his wife Sarah, children Helen, Naomi and Dean, and five grandchildren Daniel, Matthew, Isaac, Tonya and Tobias.