Research

Robert G Edwards, inventor of IVF technology, wins Nobel

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eHEALTH BureauIts after 25 years of success. British scientist Robert G Edwards, whose contributions to the technology of in vitro fertilisation have made more than 4 million couples parents, has been awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.Working with Dr Patrick Steptoe, Edwards, now 85, developed the techniques for removing mature eggs from a woman’s ovaries, fertilising them in test tubes and inducing them to begin dividing before implanting them back in the mother.Their efforts yielded the July 25, 1978, birth of Louise Brown, the first “test tube baby,” both demonstrating the success and the safety of the technique and bringing hope to infertile people all over the world. An estimated 10% of all couples are unable to conceive naturally.Edwards, an emeritus professor at Cambridge University, is in failing health now and was unable to accept the early morning call from Sweden’s Nobel Committee. A statement released by Bourn Hall, the Cambridge in vitro fertilisation, or IVF, clinic founded by Edwards and Steptoe, said, “The family is thrilled and delighted that Professor Edwards has been awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine for the development of IVF. The success of this research has touched the lives of millions of people worldwide, and his dedication and single-minded determination despite opposition from many quarters has led to successful application of his pioneering research.”Steptoe was not named as a recipient of the $1.5-million prize because Nobel rules require that an honoree be alive at the time of the award. He died in 1988, 13 years before New York’s Lasker Foundation awarded Edwards its top award, which is often viewed as a precursor to the Nobel.Edwards began experimenting with IVF in the mid-1950s after receiving his doctorate from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. By 1969, he had successfully fertilised an egg in a test tube

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