From germ cell preservation to regenerative medicine: an exciting research career in biotechnology

Ian Wilmut

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate


Collection, manipulation, assessment, and storage of mammalian gametes, embryos, and stem cells are providing important opportunities in agriculture, research, and medicine. Semen and embryo freezing in livestock are used in breeding schemes, especially in cattle and for international trade, with no risk of spreading disease. In human medicine, they are used in treatment of infertility. Usually, knowledge gained in one species is applicable in the others. In one exception, some ruminant embryos cultured according to protocols used in human in vitro fertilization become unusually large offspring. This is due to disturbances in expression of imprinted genes. The nuclear transfer procedure developed at the Roslin Institute is being used to make genetic modifications in livestock to either direct production of biomedical proteins, create animal models of human disease, or enhance animal health and productivity. Human pluripotent cells are being used in Edinburgh to identify drugs to treat degenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalAnnual Review of Animal Biosciences
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • Agriculture
  • Animals
  • Biotechnology
  • Humans
  • Tissue Preservation
  • Veterinary Medicine

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