[Worldkings] Top 100 pioneers in all fields (P. 17) Robert Edwards (UK): The one who successfully unlocked the in-vitro fertilization method


(Worldkings.org) Successfully inventing in-vitro fertilization, Robert Edwards created the lives of 5 million children (as of his death), bringing happiness to countless infertile couples.

Sir Robert Geoffrey Edwards (27 September 1925 – 10 April 2013) was a British physiologist and pioneer in reproductive medicine, and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in particular. Along with obstetrician and gynaecologist Patrick Steptoe and nurse Jean Purdy, Edwards successfully pioneered conception through IVF, which led to the birth of Louise Brown on 25 July 1978.


Circa 1960 Edwards started to study human fertilization, and he continued his work at Cambridge, laying the groundwork for his later success. In 1968 he was able to achieve fertilization of a human egg in the laboratory and started to collaborate with Patrick Steptoe, a gynaecological surgeon from Oldham. Edwards developed human culture media to allow the fertilization and early embryo culture, while Steptoe used laparoscopy to recover ovocytes from patients with tubal infertility. Their attempts met significant hostility and opposition, including a refusal of the Medical Research Council to fund their research and a number of lawsuits. Roger Gosden was one of his first graduate students.

The birth of Louise Brown, the world's first 'test-tube baby', at 11:47 pm on 25 July 1978 at the Oldham General Hospital made medical history: in vitro fertilisation meant a new way to help infertile couples who formerly had no possibility of having a baby. Nurse Jean Purdy was the first to see Brown's embryo dividing.


Refinements in technology have increased pregnancy rates and it is estimated that in 2010 about 4 million children have been born by IVF, with approximately 170,000 coming from donated oocyte and embryos. Their breakthrough laid the groundwork for further innovations such as intracytoplasmatic sperm injection ICSI, embryo biopsy (PGD), and stem cell research.


They founded the first IVF programme for infertile patients and trained other scientists in their techniques. Edwards was the founding editor-in-chief of Human Reproduction in 1986. In 2010, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for the development of in vitro fertilization".


According to Wikipedia

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