Professor Keith Campbell, a British cell biologist most famous for his work as a part of the team that cloned Dolly the sheep, died last week, the Los Angeles Times is reporting. He was 58.
According to a statement released by The University of Nottingham on Thursday, Campbell passed away on October 5. His cause of death is unknown at this time.
CNN reports professor Campbell began researching animal cloning while at the Roslin Institute in 1991.
The end goal, he believed, was that the manipulation of embryonic cells in animals could lead to important breakthroughs that might produce medicine and organs that could be transplanted into humans.
Dr. Campbell’s career reached its peak in 1996 with the creation of Dolly, grown from a mammary gland that his team fused with another sheep’s egg. The LA Times notes that the sheep had been named after voluptuous singer Dolly Parton.
In addition to rocking the scientific world, the birth of Dolly touched off an avalanche of media attention and criticism.
Animal rights groups and religious organizations were furious over the manipulation and the United Nations called on its members to adopt a nonbinding declaration which banned human cloning, a notion that Campbell admitted he deplored in any case.
“It will always be the preferred way of having children,” Dr. Campbell told The New York Times in 1997. “Why would anyone want to clone, anyway? It’s far too expensive and a lot less fun than the original method.”
Following Dolly’s successful cloning, the sheep gave birth (the natural way) to six lambs and many other animals have been cloned, including cats, mules and pigs.
Dolly was eventually euthanized in 2003 after suffering from lung problems and arthritis, but her stuffed remains can be visited at a museum in Scotland.
Campbell is survived by his wife, Kathy, two daughters, Claire and Lauren.