SAD LOSS OF 'FATHER OF IVF' PROF SIR ROBERT EDWARDS
Bourn Hall Clinic10 April 2013
It is with deep sadness that the family of Professor Sir Robert Edwards - Nobel prizewinner, scientist and co-pioneer of IVF - announce that he passed away peacefully in his sleep this morning after a long illness. He will be greatly missed by family, friends and colleagues.
It was his pioneering work with Patrick Steptoe that led to the birth of the world's first "test-tube" baby, Louise Brown, on 25 July 1978, and more than 5 million babies worldwide.
To make their work available to more couples, Steptoe and Edwards founded the world's first IVF clinic at Bourn Hall near Cambridge in 1980.
Chief Executive of Bourn Hall International Mike Macnamee says that his colleague, mentor and friend, is one of our greatest scientists.
"Bob Edwards main motivation was his strong desire to help infertile couples to conceive. He once said that most important thing in life is having a child, Nothing is more special than a child".
"His inspirational work has enhanced the lives of millions of people worldwide, and he is held in great affection by everyone that has worked with him and was treated by him."
"His passing is a great loss to us all."
Louise Brown, the world's first IVF baby says; "It was really sad to hear the news today. I have always regarded Robert Edwards as like a grandfather to me. His work, along with Patrick Steptoe, has brought happiness and joy to millions of people all over the world by enabling them to have children."
"I am glad that he lived long enough to be recognised with a Nobel Prize for his work and his legacy will live on with all the IVF work being carried out throughout the world. The thoughts of myself and my sister Natalie, who was also born through IVF, are with his family at this sad time."
Dr Thomas Mathews, Bourn Hall Clinic's UK Medical Director, says Edwards was always ahead of his time; "In the early days he talked of freezing embryos, blastocyst culture, pre genetic diagnosis (PGD) and ICSI (intra cytoplasmic sperm injection) long before people had thought these scientific techniques could be a reality."
"When I first met Bob in 1983 I was impressed with his passion and enthusiasm for IVF. I also remember his insistence that every member of the team had to maintain his high standards in our clinical and scientific work and we uphold this ethos now."
Everyone at Bourn Hall was delighted when his achievements were formally recognised with the award of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2010 'for the development of in vitro fertilization.'
In 2011, Edwards was knighted 'for services to human reproductive biology'.
A Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, Robert Edwards worked for many years in the University of Cambridge Department of Physiology. Professor Martin Johnson, now Emeritus Professor of Reproductive Science at the University, was one of his first Graduate students between 1966 and 1969. He said: "Bob Edwards was a remarkable man who changed the lives of so many people. He was not only a visionary in his science but also in his communication to the wider public about matters scientific in which he was a great pioneer."
"He will be greatly missed by his colleagues, students, his family and all the many people he has helped to have children."