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Test Tube Baby Pioneer Robert Edwards Passes Away

APRIL 11, 2013

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British scientist Robert Edwards, a Nobel laureate for his revolutionary work on In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) leading to the birth of the first test tube baby, has passed away. He was 87.


The scientist and co-pioneer of IVF, passed away peacefully in sleep after a long illness. He got the Nobel prize for medicine in 2010, 30 years after the world's first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, was born in 1978, and five decades after he had begun experimenting. He was too weak to pick up his Nobel prize, leaving that to his wife Ruth.


In the late 1970s, Edwards and Dr Patrick Steptoe became famous for in vitro fertilisation, which resulted in the birth of Louise Brown, the first test tube baby in 1978. Their work won them the gratitude of millions, but ran into conflict with the Catholic Church.


Edwards had served in the British army before returning home to study agricultural sciences and animal genetics. Building on earlier research on rabbits, Edwards developed the same technique for humans. His Eureka! moment came in a UK laboratory in 1968 when he first saw life outside the womb in the form of a human blastocyst, an embryo that developed 5-6 days after fertilization.


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