Sat, February 07, 2009
Sci-Tech > Science

Cloning scientist Jerry Yang dies of cancer

2009-02-06 21:49:57 GMT2009-02-07 05:49:57 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

In this Sept. 12, 2003 file photo, Dr. Xiangzhong Jerry Yang poses in his lab at the University of Connecticut's Bio Technology Complex in Storrs, Conn. Yang is professor and director of the Department of Animal Science at UConn. He is a leader in animal cloning research. Yang, a stem cell scientist who successfully cloned the first farm animal in the United States, has died Thursday Feb. 5, 2009, after a long battle with cancer. He was 49. (AP Photo/Jack Sauer, File)

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- China-born Xiangzhong "Jerry" Yang, one of the top cloning scientists in the world, died late Thursday after a long battle with cancer, his secretary Phyllis Horvith confirmed to Xinhua on Friday.

The 49-year old University of Connecticut scientist died before accomplishing one of his dreams -- the cloning of a human embryo for potentially-life saving stem cells.

Born in a village called Dongcun, about 300 miles (480 kilometers) south of Beijing, China and educated in Cornell University in the United States, Dr. Yang, is one of the foremost animal biotechnologists in the world. Yang joined the faculty of the University of Connecticut as an associate professor of animal science and head of the Biotechnology Center's Transgenic Animal Facility in 1996 and was promoted to full professor in 2000.

In 2001, he was named founding director of University of Connecticut's new Center for Regenerative Biology, overseeing five new faculty lines investigating basic science in the field of regenerative biology and medicine.

Dr. Yang was an advocate for human embryonic stem cell research. His 1999 cloning of a Holstein cow brought the university to national prominence. Amy was the first cloned first animal in the United States.

His dramatic achievements include:

First scientist in the world to produce male clones from a prize Japanese breeding bull in 1988.

First to produce a cloned animal -- the famous calf, Amy -- from an adult farm animal, at University of Connecticut, in 1999.

First to report that cloned animals have telomeres of normal length, an important observation, since telomeres function as disposable buffers at the ends of chromosomes, preventing loss of genetic information that is essential to cellular function.

First to report abnormal expression of X-linked genes in cloned animals.

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