Factbox: Robert Edwards, winner of the Nobel prize for Medicine

Mon Oct 4, 2010 12:37pm EDT
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(Reuters) - This year's Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, was awarded on Monday to British physiologist Robert Edwards, who helped revolutionize the treatment of human infertility,.

Here are some details on the winner:


-- Robert Edwards began his work in 1955. By 1968 he was able to achieve fertilization of the human egg in the laboratory and started to collaborate with Patrick Steptoe. Edwards developed human culture media to allow the fertilization and early embryo culture, while Steptoe utilized laparoscopy to recover ovocytes from patients with tubal infertility.

-- Edwards pioneered a field that has touched millions of lives, as infertility afflicts more than 3.5 percent of the world population.

-- He and his colleague Patrick Steptoe, who died in 1988, marched forward against tremendous opposition from churches, governments, and the media, as well as intense skepticism from scientific colleagues.

-- As a result of their efforts, well over 4 million babies have been born to parents who otherwise would have failed to conceive children.

-- The birth of Louise Brown, the first "test tube baby" in July 1978 heralded the beginning of a new field of medicine.

-- Because medical practitioners can now inject a single sperm into an egg, infertile men as well as infertile women can have children. With this advance, called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), even men who harbor small numbers of sperm can father babies.   Continued...