Cloning and Stem Cell Research in Wildlife Reproduction

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, New York, USA
Saving Wildlife Through The Science of ‘ART’
The decreasing number of deer in Malaysia is concerning because they serve as prey for the majestic Malayan Tiger, which is also currently at risk of extinction. Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is a technique which may increase these numbers by enhancing fertility outcomes. Dr Wan Nor Fitri Bin Wan Jaafar, a senior lecturer at Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UPM attached to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine who studies this area conducts stem cell research with a focus on its application to wildlife reproduction.
Given the necessary skills and facilities for the Bornean Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harissoni), we could have employed Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to study the species sooner. With ART, Malaysia can perform somatic cell nuclear transfer in the Bornean Rhino, utilising cryopreserved tissue samples from the three deceased mammals. This technique offers a swift solution, showcasing the Malaysian government's commitment to wildlife conservation efforts.
From fiction to reality: How cloning could prevent extinction
Motivated by the imminent extinction of the Malaysian Tiger, Dr. Wan felt an urgent need to safeguard the mammal and other endangered species. His aspiration extended to exploring cloning techniques using Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) with the ambitious goal of 'reviving' extinct animals—an idea he initially considered more plausible in Jurassic Park movies than a tangible reality.
Despite the demanding nature of this research, Dr. Wan achieved a breakthrough during his 3-month international attachment at Cornell University, New York under the supervision of Associate Professor Dr. Soon Hong Cheong — a renowned name in the field of theriogenology. Together with Prof Soon’s team at the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), Dr. Wn successfully cloned hundreds of blastocysts (a cluster of dividing cells made by a fertilised egg) and Twilight, the first horse with a fully sequenced genome. The achievement highlights the team’s dedication despite the challenges involved in the cloning process.
A great spokesperson for Malaysian Tiger conservation
During his attachment, Dr. Wan took the opportunity to deliver a presentation to veterinary students at CVM, highlighting crucial conservation efforts for endangered Malaysian animals, emphasizing awareness and active participation.
Dr. Wan also discussed potential collaborations on a Malayan tiger conservation project with Dr. Martin Gilbert, focusing on wildlife diseases like the Canine Distemper Virus.
With his enhanced skills and a network of conservation scientists, Dr. Wan aims to implement this protocol in Malaysia for the protection of critically endangered native species.

Saving the world one tiger at a time.
His meeting with the majestic Amur TIger further cemented his belief in making his research a reality. It reminded him of  the interconnectedness of the world we live in. The Amur tiger became a bridge, connecting him to the Malayan tiger thousands of miles away. The responsibility to protect these iconic species extends beyond geographical boundaries. It is a global endeavour, requiring collective action and a steadfast commitment to preserving global biodiversity and the fragile ecosystem of nature that sustains us all.

The information in this award recipient's profile is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the time the award was presented. Any subsequent changes, updates, or developments in the individual's life or achievements may not be reflected in this profile.


We use cookies to enhance your browsing experience and for analytical purposes. By continuing to browse, you are deemed to accept our use of cookies. Learn more about disabling cookies and our Privacy Statement here.