Pioneer of in vitro fertilization dies

April 10, 2013 at 5:24 PM

CAMBRIDGE, England, April 10 (UPI) -- Robert Edwards, a British pioneer of the in-vitro fertilization technique bringing millions of children into the world, has died, Cambridge University says.

"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 10th, 2013, after a long illness," the university said in a statement Wednesday.

Edwards co-developed, along with Patrick Steptoe, the IVF technique that resulted in the birth of Louise Brown, the world's first "test tube baby," in 1978.

Edwards won the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 2010 "for the development of in vitro fertilization" and was knighted a year later for "services to human reproductive biology."

More than 4 million babies have been born into the world using the IVF technique, The Guardian newspaper said.

Although Edwards' and Steptoe's technique has won them the gratitude of couples around the world, it has been criticized by the Vatican.

Colleagues and former students have been quick to praise Edwards' memory.

"Bob Edwards was a remarkable man who changed the lives of so many people," said Cambridge professor of reproductive science Martin Johnson, Edwards' first graduate student.

"He will be greatly missed by his colleagues, students, his family and all the many people he has helped to have children."

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