Professor Robert Edwards, sometimes referred to as the Father of IVF, has a longstanding recognition as being a leader among pioneers of reproductive medicine and assisted reproduction technology (ART). He was recently recognized with a Nobel Prize in Medicine in October 2010 for “the development of in vitro fertilization.” Edwards is famous for the 1978 birth of Louise Brown — significant because she was the first baby born using in-vitro fertilization.
Edwards began studying human fertilization in 1960 and did the majority of his work at Cambridge University. He successfully fertilized the first egg outside the body in 1968, and worked extensively with gynecological surgeon Patrick Steptoe to refine laboratory culturing and egg retrieval processes in tandem. Although their efforts were highly scrutinized and caused massive disapproval (and funding refusals) they laid the groundwork for the entire field of infertility care as we know it today.
According to a statement from the committee that awarded Edwards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, his work and achievements made it possible to treat infertility, a frustrating and stressful condition that is reported to affect more than 10% of all couples. Today approximately 5 million individuals have been born thanks to IVF.
This historic video shows the birth of Louise Brown on July 25, 1978 and marks the beginning of successful IVF for humans. This video was made from archival material preserved courtesy of the BFI National Archive.
We have come a long way since 1978, but will always respect the pioneering work that was done to get us where we are today.