Medical practice

Nobel prize for British IVF pioneer

Professor Robert Edwards, the British pioneer of reproductive medicine, has been awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his groundbreaking work into treating infertility.

Prof Edwards has long been at the forefront of reproductive medicine, from his early exploration of the biology of fertilization to his key role in developing and refining IVF.

It was his and research partner Dr Patrick Steptoe’s fundamental research that, in 1978, led to the birth of Louise Brown, the world’s first ‘test-tube’ baby. Since then the techniques they devised have led to the births of nearly 4 million babies, many of whom now have children of their own.

‘Medical milestone’

In awarding the prize, the Nobel Assembly said that: “A new field of medicine has emerged, with Robert Edwards leading the process all the way – from the fundamental discoveries to the current, successful IVF therapy. His contributions represent a milestone in the development of modern medicine.”

Although Prof Edwards has received the prize for his pivotal work on IVF, his research has also been of major importance in both established and emerging techniques, such as embryo screening and stem cell experimentation.

Learn more about fertility, IVF and assisted reproduction:

Health A-Z: IVF

Live Well: IVF explained

Live Well: the facts about fertility

NHS Attribution