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Tributes to IVF pioneer Sir Bob Edwards

Tributes have been paid to IVF pioneer, Sir Robert Edwards, who has died. Building on his work, scientists at Newcastle University have developed an IVF technique to prevent mitochondria disease.

Professor Sir Robert (Bob) Edwards, working with Dr Patrick Steptoe, is credited with the development of in vitro fertilization, or IVF, which resulted in the birth in 1978 of the world’s first ‘test tube baby’, Louise Brown.

Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2010, “for the development of in vitro fertilization”.

The European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology say that there are now 5 million IVF babies in the world, and “they each reflect the sacrifices he made to establish IVF as a legitimate treatment in world medicine”.

Dr David Lynn, Director of Policy, Wellcome Trust said: “Few scientists can have contributed so much to the sum of human happiness as Bob Edwards, whose pioneering work with Patrick Steptoe has allowed millions of couples affected by infertility to start families. British science continues to build today on the world leadership in reproductive technology which he established, through research such as Newcastle University’s IVF techniques for preventing transmission of mitochondrial disease.”

Professor Doug Turnbull, Newcastle University said: “Robert Edwards was a true medical pioneer who has changed both medical science and society.

"I work outside of the main field of reproduction but have a major interest in preventing transmission of genetic disease. I see patients in my clinics all the time and the IVF techniques that Robert Edwards developed not only give infertile couples the opportunity to have children but also those who carry certain genetic diseases the opportunity to have healthy children. What greater achievement can there be than that?”

Read more on the Science Media Centre, New Zealand website

published on: 11 April 2013