IVF pioneer Robert Edwards wins Nobel prize

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 05 October 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c5533
  1. Geoff Watts
  1. 1London

The pundits, this time, got it wrong. The smart money for the 2010 Nobel prize for physiology or medicine was on a clutch of researchers working either on stem cells or on the appetite regulating hormone leptin. But the award committee surprised them all on 4 October by handing it to Robert Edwards for the development of in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Given that Professor Edwards and his co-pioneer, the late obstetrician Patrick Steptoe, announced their achievement more than 30 years ago, it had begun to seem that this particular advance was not to earn the highest of scientific honours. But Nobel committees have a long collective memory, and awards given for research carried out decades previously are not entirely exceptional.

The formal announcement of the first birth from IVF came modestly enough in a letter to the Lancet. “We wish …

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