Professor Robert Edwards, the British Nobel Laureate who pioneered research in in vitro fertilization (IVF) has died. Edwards whose research led to the conception and birth of the first test tube baby died in his sleep in his home just outside Cambridge on Wednesday.
Edwards and Dr Patrick Steptoe developed IVF in 1978, resulting in the birth of Louise Brown, the first test tube baby. Incidentally, both men were chided by many for interfering with the course of nature then. The process involves the development of an embryo in the laboratory before being transferred into a woman.
With IVF, infertile couples have been able to have children. The European Society for Human Reproduction and Embriology estimates that since Edwards made the discovery, not less than 5 million babies have been born using the technique. Approximately 350,000 babies are born by IVF annually according to experts.
Edwards was born in Yorkshire in 1925. He served in the British Army in the Second World War after which he returned home to study Agricultural Science and later Animal Genetics.