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Alumna, cloning pioneer to speak

October 29, 2001

A discussion by an Austin Peay alumna and renowned pioneer in cloning research marks the third in a series of alumni talks and performances that are part of the University's 75th Anniversary celebration.

Dr. J. Lannett Edwards, assistant professor of animal science at UT-Knoxville, will discuss "Cloning: Progress and Problems" at 10 a.m., Monday, Nov. 5 in E106 of the Sundquist Science Complex. The talk is free and open to the public.

After graduating from APSU in 1989, Edwards obtained a master's degree in dairy science from Mississippi State University. In August 1996, she completed a doctorate in animal science (focusing on animal and molecular cell biology) at the University of Florida where, as a doctoral student, she created the first test-tube calf born in that state.

She was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship by the United States Department of Agriculture. Her USDA research focused on developing procedures for cloning adult cattle with the ultimate goal of providing methodology for genetic modification of farm animals.

During her tenure with the USDA, she had the opportunity to work during Fall 1997 with Dr. Ian Wilmut at the Roslin Institute in Scotland. Her work with Wilmut occurred shortly after he cloned Dolly, the sheep.

During the year since she began work at UT-Knoxville, Edwards' research, which has focused on determining the effects of environmental stressors on embryonic development, has received national and international attention. Her recent success in cloning an adult Jersey cow, using proliferating cells, captured media attention worldwide.

Edwards' other research interests include development of alternative strategies for altering sex of farm animals and identification of genes of economic interest to the livestock industry. There is great interest in her research on developing disease-resistant genes.

In 1998, Edwards was honored as APSU's Outstanding Young Alumna. She received the University of Tennessee's Outstanding Faculty Award in 1999 and, most recently, received a Certificate of Merit from Online Communications for Technical Marketing for "The UT Cloning Project."

She authored proposals during the past year that garnered more than $93,000 in USDA-grant money for UT-Knoxville for cloning research. In 2001, Edwards received a grant to study genetic influences on mastitis in Jersey cows and another grant to study the effects of constructing cloned embryos in maternal versus foreign-egg cytoplasm. These followed a grant to fund research on somantic cell nuclear transfer.

This young scientist, who has published numerous refereed papers, scholarly articles and abstracts, is on the editorial board of the "Journal of Animal Science." Her professional memberships include the International Embryo Transfer Society.

Edwards has given invited lectures at many national conferences. Selecting among international invitations, she spoke at The First Tri-National Forum on Biotechnology in Agriculture, held in Guadalajera, Mexico in May 2001. Her topic was "Cloning Diary Cattle: Opportunities for Industry, Scientific Challenges and Ethical Concerns."

For more information, telephone 7459.