Test-tube baby pioneer dies aged 87

British scientist Robert Edwards, known as “father” of the first test-tube baby in the world, died on Wednesday aged 87, the University of Cambridge announced.

British scientist Robert Edwards, known as “father” of the first test-tube baby in the world, died on Wednesday aged 87, the University of Cambridge announced.

Edwards, who was awarded a Nobel prize for his pioneering work in developing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in cooperation with his colleague Patrick Steptoe, led to the birth of the first “test-tube baby” Louise Brown in 1978. The invention has made the dream of having a baby come true for millions of people worldwide as figures show that about 4 million babies have been born with the help of IVF treatment. 

“It is with deep sadness that the family announces that Professor Sir Robert Edwards, Nobel prizewinner, scientist and co-pioneer of IVF, passed away peacefully in his sleep on April 10, 2013 after a long illness,” Cambridge university said in a statement.

“He will be greatly missed by family, friends and colleagues,” added the statement.

Born in Yorkshire in northern England on Sept. 27, 1925, into a working-class family, Edwards served in the British army during World War II before returning home to study first agricultural sciences and then animal genetics.

Building on earlier research which showed that egg cells from rabbits could be fertilised in test tubes when sperm was added, Edwards developed the same technique for humans.  In a laboratory in Cambridge, eastern England, in 1968, he first saw life created outside the womb in the form of a human blastocyst, an embryo that has developed for five to six days after fertilisation.

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