Brain Disease Surge Linked to Modern Life

August 16, 2004

NICOLA STOW


• 53-year-old said to be suffering depression
• Professor had crucial role in Dolly creation
• Funeral set to be held at weekend

THE head of the science lab which created Dolly the sheep has been found hanging in his holiday home.

Professor John Clark, who was believed to have been suffering from depression was found in his remote cottage in the village of Cove, north of Eyemouth, on the Berwickshire coast.

Prof Clark lead the Roslin Institute in Midlothian, one of the world’s leading animal biotechnology research centres.

He played a crucial role in creating the transgenic sheep that earned the institute worldwide fame.

The 53-year-old, who was believed to have been suffering from depression, had only recently returned to work. Speaking from their Edinburgh home, his wife Helen said: "We are trying to deal with telling family and friends at the moment but it’s been a huge shock."

A police source said: "The professor has been under stress for some time and on Thursday morning he apparently left the house as normal to go to work.

"The alarm was raised when he didn’t appear and his family asked someone to check the house in Eyemouth. Tragically, Professor Clark was found dead inside." The professor’s funeral is expected to be held in the Capital at the weekend.

A police spokesman said: "There are no suspicious circumstances and a report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal."

On his appointment as director of the Roslin Institute in 2002, Julia Goodfellow, chief executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, described Prof Clark as "an excellent appointment" under which the institute would continue to flourish.

Prof Clark said he was delighted to be appointed director of the centre and was "looking forward to the challenges of leading Roslin".

Prof Clark became a head of department at Roslin in 1993 and group leader at the institute in 1985. He pioneered the development of transgenic livestock and oversaw the establishment of the institute’s research programme on human embryonic stem cells.

Prof Clark also founded three spin-out firms from Roslin - PPL Therapeutics, Rosgen and Roslin BioMed. He replaced Professor Grahame Bulfield - who has become vice-principal and head of the College of Science and Engineering at Edinburgh University - as head of the Roslin Institute.

PPL was forced into voluntary liquidation last year after its value fell from £500 million to £5m.

The Roslin building in which PPL Therapeutics was based, where Dolly the Sheep was cloned, was put up for sale for £1.24m in December last year.

The decision to sell was taken by PPL as it struggled to balance the books for its shareholders. The firm was put up for sale in November after abandoning its one remaining interest - a wound sealant called Fibrin-1.

The public sale of equipment including industrial ovens, walk-in freezers and office swivel chairs, raised just £169,000, despite widespread interest from both farmers and scientists. The firm had hoped to net more than £1m.

The sale of the Roslin building, however, was another body blow for a company which has made its mark on history.

In 1997, it made headlines worldwide after unveiling Dolly as the first cloned animal.

It was thought that the firm’s genetically-cloned sheep would revolutionise the biotechnology sector, while its modified pig organs would be transplanted into humans, providing a solution to the donor crisis. But after 16 years of pure research, the group’s 150 employees across Scotland and New Zealand dwindled to a skeleton.


http://news.scotsman.com/scitech.cfm?id=948042004




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