10 April 2013
ByAppeared in BioNews 700
Professor Sir Robert Edwards (27 September 1925 - 10 April 2013) has died after a long illness.
Bob Edwards was a key figure in reproductive medicine. He is best known for his work with Dr Patrick Steptoe and Jean Purdy pioneering both the theory and the practice of IVF. This led to the birth of the first 'test tube baby', Louise Brown, on 25 July 1978, and to the birth of more than five million IVF babies worldwide thereafter.
Bob received many accolades for this work, and was finally awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010. A knighthood followed in 2011.
Bob was no stranger to adversity or controversy. He struggled to obtain funding for his research, was criticised by fellow Cambridge academics, and had his work attacked by institutions including the Catholic church. He was a moral man, and gave great thought to the ethical ramifications of his work.
Peter Braude, Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at King's College London, says: 'Few biologists have so positively and practically impacted on humankind. Bob's boundless energy, his innovative ideas, and his resilience despite the relentless criticism by naysayers, changed the lives of millions of ordinary people who now rejoice in the gift of their own child. He leaves the world a much better place'.