February 21, 2006

First scientist to clone a cat visits SIUC Feb. 27

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The first scientist to clone a cat will visit Southern Illinois University Carbondale to discuss that work and his current research.

Mark E. Westhusin, associate professor of veterinary physiology and pharmacology at Texas A&M University, will talk about "Life After Pet Cloning" at 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 27, in the auditorium of the Life Science III building on the SIUC campus.

Westhusin and his research team had previously cloned pigs, a goat, a disease-resistant Angus bull and a Brahma bull before cloning Rainbow, a calico lab cat, in 2001. The resulting kitten, cc (which stood for "copy cat"), was born to a surrogate mother at the end of that year, making international headlines the following February when the journal Nature reported her birth.

The scientists later went on to clone a white-tailed deer, a breakthrough that may help conserve endangered species such as Florida's Key West deer.

Westhusin is currently focusing on the use of genetic engineering in producing other disease-resistant livestock and in developing stem cell therapies that could correct hemophilia.

SIUC's Sigma Xi chapter, its Department of Animal Science, Food and Nutrition and its Department of Physiology are sponsoring Westhusin's lecture.

Enhancing the culture of research on the campus is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.