Robert G. Edwards
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2010
Born: 27 September 1925, Batley, United Kingdom
Died: 10 April 2013, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Prize motivation: “for the development of in vitro fertilization”
Prize share: 1/1
Robert Edwards was born outside of Manchester in England to a working-class family. After serving in the army and studies at the University of Bangor, Edwards continued his studies at the University of Edinburgh, where he completed his doctorate in 1955. After serving at various institutions, in 1963 he moved to the University of Cambridge. In 1980 Edwards and Patrick Steptoe established the Bourn Hall fertility clinic. Edwards was married to Ruth Fowler, who was also a scientific colleague. They had five children.
For many people, having children occupies a central place in their lives, but not everyone can have children in a natural way. A woman’s Fallopian tubes may be blocked or there can be too few eggs or sperm cells. Robert Edwards saw a solution to this: removing an egg from the woman, allowing it to be fertilized in a test tube and then replacing it in the woman. He explained how eggs mature and how sperm is activated, and in cooperation with Patrick Steptoe, he found a method for removing eggs from the ovaries. In 1978 the first child was born as a result of in vitro fertilization.
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