Karolinska Medical Institute
On Monday, October 4th, 2010 British Scientist Robert G. Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his pioneering efforts in the development of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) therapy. Thanks to his efforts IVF has been the leading approach in treating infertility for the past three decades.
Starting his work in the 1950’s Edwards, a professor emeritus of Cambridge University, sought a procedure that would allow the human female egg to be fertilized outside of the human body, commonly in cell culture dishes, and then implanted back into the female’s womb. This controlled environment of cell fertilization led to the popular phrase known as ‘test-tube baby.’ His efforts came to fruition on July 25th, 1978 when Louise Brown was born; she had become the world’s first in-vitro success story.
Edwards did not work alone in his quest to help solve the issue of infertility. Dr. Patrick Steptoe, a gynecologist at Oldham General Hospital, worked alongside Edwards and contributed significantly through out the duration of their discovery in Great Britain. Steptoe died in 1988.
There has always been a substantial amount of ethical debate surrounding IVF through out a wide range of religious and scientific communities. It’s been asserted by the Nobel Prize committee that children born through the aid of IVF are just as healthy as those that are conceived naturally. Most resistance within the scientific communities is found when debating the in-vitro approach in regards to women who are postmenopausal and more prone to obstetric risks. Another common controversy surrounds the idea of what can truly be considered natural conception and if it is indeed God’s will when a child is born through IVF.
No matter the case Dr. Robert G. Edwards and his monumental medical advances in this field have helped thousands of couples around the world conceive and has paved the way for future scientists to build on his research and discoveries.