Robert Edwards, Father Of IVF, Dies At 87
April 10, 2013

Sir Robert Edwards, Father Of IVF, Dies At 87

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Robert Edwards, the scientist known as the father of in-vitro fertilization, died at the age of 87 on Wednesday.

Edwards won the Nobel Prize in medicine for his achievement in pioneering the development of "test tube babies" for couples who were unable to conceive naturally.

Under the IVF process, an egg is fertilized by sperm outside of the body in a test tube. Roberts, or "Bob" as he was known to his friends, began working on IVF back in 1955. Eventually, his work paid off, as Louise Brown, the first test tube baby, was born in 1978.

“It is with deep sadness that the family announces that Professor Sir Robert Edwards, Nobel prizewinner, scientist and co-pioneer of IVF, passed away peacefully in his sleep on 10th April 2013 after a long illness," the University of Cambridge wrote in a statement. "He will be greatly missed by family, friends and colleagues."

Edwards won the award of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2010 "for the development of in vitro fertilization." It took 30 years for Edwards work to finally be recognized because it was seen as controversial. At the time, Dr. Geoffrey Sher of the Sher Institute for Reproductive Medicine said he hopes this recognition will open doors and offer hope to millions out there still struggling to conceive. In 2011, Robert was knighted "for services to human reproductive biology."

“Bob Edwards was a remarkable man who changed the lives of so many people," said Professor Martin Johnson, Emeritus Professor of Reproductive Science, University of Cambridge. "He was not only a visionary in his science but also in his communication to the wider public about matters scientific in which he was a great pioneer."

Mike Macnamee, Chief Executive of Bourn Hall, the IVF clinic that Dr. Patrick Steptoe and Edwards co-founded, said that Bob was one of the world's greatest scientists.

"His inspirational work in the early 60s led to a breakthrough that has enhanced the lives of millions of people worldwide. He is held in great affection by everyone who has worked with him and was treated by him," Macnamee said. "For me personally Bob was a great mentor, colleague and friend.  It was a privilege to work with him and his passing is a great loss to us all."

According to research presented at the 28th annual meeting of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in July, 2012, five million children have been born with IVF and a similar method since Louise Brown's birth.

“He will be greatly missed by his colleagues, students, his family and all the many people he has helped to have children," Professor Johnson said.