Category: Tech / Sci / April 10, 2013 4:07 PM EDT
Robert Edwards, a British Nobel prize-winning scientist known as the father of IVF for pioneering the development of "test tube babies", died on Wednesday (April 10) aged 87 after a long illness, his university said.
Edwards, who won the Nobel prize for medicine for his achievement in 2010, started work on developing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in the 1950s, and the first so-called test tube baby, Louise Brown, was born in 1978 as a result of his research.
Since then, more than 5 million babies have been born around the world as a result of the techniques Edwards developed together with his late colleague, Patrick Steptoe.
Edwards, who has five daughters and 11 grandchildren, said he was motivated in his work by a desire to help families.
Edwards began his work on fertilization in 1955, and by 1968 had managed to fertilize a human egg in a laboratory. He then started to collaborate with Steptoe.
In 1980, the two founded Bourn Hall, the world's first IVF clinic, in Cambridge, eastern England, where gynecologists and cell biologists around the world have since come to train.
IVF is a process by which an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body in a test tube, giving rise to the term "in vitro" or "in glass"
Experts say that today, as many as 1 to 2 percent of babies in the Western world are conceived through IVF, a method designed to help infertile couples or those who have trouble conceiving naturally but who want to have children of their own.
Video Source: Reuters