Sir Robert Edwards, who has died aged 87 and Patrick Steptoe (who died in 1988) were the IVF pioneers achieving the most significant advance in the history of reproductive medicine through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), determining how to overcome infertility by removing an egg from a woman‘s ovary, fertilising it in the laboratory with her partner’s sperm, enabling its early development in to an embryo and then transferring it back to the woman’s womb to create a pregnancy. Today, a medical treatment that is considered normal and helps create 3% of this country’s population. However, in the late 70s it was amongst massive criticism that Edwards with his research partner Steptoe worked to achieve the first birth of Louise Brown from IVF in 1980.
“Bob worked against massive critiscism, 5 million children later, he has been a great hero and a good friend to us all,” Prof Bill Ledger.
“Sir Edwards was a very supportive man of other researchers working in this field. Bob was the driving force at Borne Hall, arguably the Centre of excellence globally in reproductive medicine. I recall on more than one occasion energetic discussions with him on an area I was working on endometrium and implantation he was incredibly generous with his ideas,” Prof Michael Chapman.
“It is a sad day to see the passing of a man who has helped create so many families around the world with his pioneering medicine and research. While the significance of his achievements have only been acknowledged in recent years – indeed he was too unwell to personally receive the Nobel prize in 2010 for his work in biology and medicine– his legacy will lives on in the hearts of those created and as an inspiration to all of us working in this field of medicine,” Prof Peter Illingworth.
For further information please contact Nic Phillips on 02 9425 1628