Robert G. Edwards – Development of In Vitro Fertilization
Robert G. Edwards was born on September 27, 1925 in Batley, Yorkshire, UK. Before he got into the medical field, he served in World War II before studying biology at the University of Wales in Bangor and Edinburgh University in Scotland. There, he received a PhD in 1955 with a thesis on embryonal development in mice. In 1958, he became a staff scientist at the National Institute for Medical Research in London and initiated his research on the human fertilization process. Five years later, he began his academic career in the reproductive physiology department was spent in Cambridge, UK, where he and gynecologist, Patrick Steptoe started the world’s first In Vitro Fertilization centre, the Bourn Hall Clinic. Edwards was the research director for the clinic for several years and had also edited many leading scientific journals on fertilization. He currently teaches at the University of Cambridge. As early as the 1950s, Edwards envisioned that In Vitro Fertilization could be a very useful treatment for infertility. He worked in steps – from systematically determining his goal, discovering principles for human fertilization, and succeeding in accomplishing fertilization of human egg cells in test tubes, or cell culture dishes. First of all, infertility, a medical and psychological problem, affects 10% of all couples in the world. This causes lifelong psychological trauma for these couples and the fact that medicines have limited opportunities to help them, there is little hope for them to conceive. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is an established therapy when sperm and egg cannot meet inside the body. After previous research had shown that egg cells from rabbits could be fertilized in test tubes when sperm was added, giving rise to offspring, Edwards decided to investigate further if similar methods could be used for humans. In experimental studies conducted together with...
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