In Vitro Fertilization Pioneer Robert Edwards Wins Nobel

October 4, 2010

IVF Pioneers

Patrick Steptoe (1913 - 1988) and Dr. Robert Edwards 'test tube baby' pioneers, who assisted in the birth of Louise Brown sit together in an unspecified city in 1979. Dr. Robert Edwards, 85, of the United Kingdom, was announced as the winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in medine on October 4, 2010 in Stockholm, Sweden. Edwards has developed in vitro fertilization, (IVF) together with Steptoe. --- Photograph by: Central Press, Getty Images

We found this IVF news article at today’s Vancouver Sun and want to share it with IVF buddies here.

Thanks to these IVF pioneer, so many people who have fertility challenges have turned their dreams of having a baby into reality. 🙂

A British scientist who pioneered IVF treatment has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his achievements in the treatment of infertility.

Prof Robert Edwards, 85, a former Cambridge physiologist, developed the fertility treatment that led to the birth of the first “test-tube” baby, Louise Brown, in 1978. His work was highly controversial at the time, with strong opposition to what was seen as “playing God” and the research had to be privately funded. Yesterday the Vatican criticized the decision to award the Nobel to Prof Edwards.

“I find the choice of Robert Edwards completely out of order,” said Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, which speaks for the Vatican.

Miss Brown said: “It is fantastic news, me and mum are so glad that one of the pioneers of IVF has been given the recognition he deserves.

“We hold Bob in great affection and are delighted to send our personal congratulations to him and his family at this time.”

Together with his colleague Dr Patrick Steptoe, a gynaecologic surgeon, Prof Edwards created the technique of fertilizing human eggs outside the body, in a dish, before implanting them in the womb. Dr Steptoe died in 1988.

As well as leading to a number of new treatments for infertility, their work also founded the principles behind stem cell research, cloning and techniques to allow couples to prevent passing on diseases to their children.

Christer Hoog, a professor of molecular biology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and a member of the Nobel Prize Committee, said Louise’s birth represented a “paradigm shift”. “It showed for the first time that it is possible to treat infertility,” he said.

IVF has now become routine, with more than four million babies worldwide benefiting from the technique and its developments.

Prof Edwards became known affectionately as the “father of IVF” and went on to develop further and share his work.

Prof Edwards, who is understood to be too ill to speak about the Nobel Prize, has said in the past: “The most important thing in life is having a child. Nothing is more special than a child.”

Martin Johnson, Professor of Reproductive Sciences at the University of Cambridge, said: “Bob’s work has always been controversial but he has never shrunk from confronting that controversy.”

Dr Allan Pacey, a senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, said: “It is a tribute to his tenacity that he persevered and as a consequence has changed the lives of millions across the world.”