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IVF pioneer Robert Edwards dies aged 87

Robert Edwards

Sir Robert Edwards, whose pioneering IVF technique has helped bring more than 4 million children into the world (including our sons), has died aged 87, Cambridge University has announced.

"It is with deep sadness that the family announces that Professor Sir Robert Edwards, Nobel prizewinner, scientist and co-pioneer of IVF, passed away peacefully in his sleep on 10th April 2013 after a long illness," the university said in a statement on Wednesday.

"He will be greatly missed by family, friends and colleagues. "

In the late 1970s, Edwards and Dr Patrick Steptoe became famous after developing the technique of in vitro fertilisation, which resulted in the birth of Louise Brown – the world's first test tube baby – in 1978.

Their work won them the gratitude of many millions of people, but was criticised by the Vatican.

Edwards, who started his work on fertilisation in 1955, won the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine in 2010 "for the development of in vitro fertilisation". A year later, he was knighted for "services to human reproductive biology".

Martin Johnson, professor of reproductive science at the University of Cambridge – and Edwards' first graduate student – said: "Bob Edwards was a remarkable man who changed the lives of so many people. He was not only a visionary in his science but also in his communication to the wider public about matters scientific in which he was a great pioneer.

"He will be greatly missed by his colleagues, students, his family and all the many people he has helped to have children."

Mike Macnamee, chief executive of Bourn Hall, the IVF clinic that Steptoe and Edwards co-founded, said: "Bob Edwards is one of our greatest scientists. His inspirational work in the early 60s led to a breakthrough that has enhanced the lives of millions of people worldwide. He is held in great affection by everyone who has worked with him and was treated by him.

"For me personally Bob was a great mentor, colleague and friend. It was a privilege to work with him and his passing is a great loss to us all."


On a personal touch - my twins are named after these amazing guys - they'll be 18 years old soon.We had four sessions at Bourn Hall in the very early days of IVF, we skint ourselves with bank loans etc...

Eventually we had treatment at Liverpool Women's & I could write a book about our journey! In the end we had our twins, long awaited & welcome brothers to our daughter Heather.

I named them Alexander PATRICK & Aaron ROBERT - both named after these two amazing guys, without whose work my husband & I would never have had our twin boys!

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Both my husband & I know the expense of multiple births! Every year gets more challenging - last year we had the double expense of driving lessons & cars - they are worth every penny though!

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10th April 2013, 21:10
Page updated 5th Oct 2015, 13:25
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