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Posts Tagged ‘Fertilization’

Robert Edwards Awarded the Nobel Prize for In Vitro Fertilization

by admin on: July 1st, 2011

The 2010 Nobel Prize for Physiology was awarded to the man that helped develop the technique of in-vitro fertilization (IVF). His name is Robert G. Edwards and he is an English biologist that teamed with his colleague Dr. Patrick Steptoe to on this development.

The technology resulted in the birth of the first test tube baby in 1978; the baby???s name was Louise Brown. Since the birth of Louise, there have been over four-million babies (worldwide) that have come into the world because of IVF.

His process of IVF involves mixing a donor???s sperm with a donor???s egg ??? outside of the body ??? and then implanting this embryo into the woman???s womb to develop normally. This process has brought life to countless families that have struggled with fertility problems, unaided by pharmaceutical drugs.

During the time this technology was being developed, both researchers came under several attacks ??? both ethical attacks and attacks from religious groups. For example, people that objected to this work included several groups from the press, the Pope, and other Nobel Laureates. Of note, it is widely held that this technology also led to the ability to conduct research with embryonic stem cells ??? a topic that is still considered very charged, today.

Nevertheless, Dr. Edwards is being awarded for work that extended over 20 years ??? much of it at Cambridge University in England. The primary issue Dr. Edwards strove to overcome was getting the sperm and the egg to ???join??? while outside of the body.

Were he alive today, Dr. Edward???s colleague, Dr. Steptoe, would likely have shared the Nobel Prize. Dr. Steptoe, a gynecologist that spent several years developing laparoscopic surgery techniques, died in 1988, and the Nobel Prize is not an award that is given posthumously.