Edwards, Sir Robert Geoffrey

Edwards, Sir Robert Geoffrey, 1925–2013, British physiologist, Ph.D. Edinburgh Univ., 1955. In 1963 he became a research fellow at Cambridge. He was associated with the university until his death, and became professor of human reproduction there in 1985 (emeritus from 1989). Working with British surgeon Patrick Steptoe, Edwards developed in vitro fertilization (IVF), a procedure in which egg cells are fertilized outside the body and implanted in the uterus for development as a typical pregnancy. Edwards pioneered a method to fertilize human eggs outside the body, while his collaborator provided the means to extract the eggs using a laparoscope. Jean Purdy, a nurse and embryologyist, was also an important contributor to the development of IVF. Louise Brown, the first test-tube baby conceived using IVF, was born in Manchester, England, on July 25, 1978. Although Edwards and Steptoe met with a great deal of hostility and criticism when they were developing the technique in the early 1970s, IVF subsequently became a widely accepted approach to infertility. Edwards received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010 for the development of IVF. He was knighted in 2011.

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