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Reprod Biomed Online. 2011 Aug;23(2):245-62. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2011.04.010. Epub 2011 May 14.

Robert Edwards: the path to IVF.

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1
The Anatomy School, Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience and The Centre for Trophoblast Research, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 1HW, UK. mhj21@cam.ac.uk

Abstract

The early influences on Robert Edwards’ approach to the scientific research that led to human IVF are described. His interest as a graduate student in the genetics of early mammalian development stimulated him later to investigate whether the origins of human genetic diseases such as Down, Klinefelter and Turner syndromes might be explained by events during egg maturation. This clinical problem provided the most powerful stimulus to achieve both oocyte maturation and fertilization in vitro in humans. Indeed,preimplantation genetic diagnosis was his main goal until he met Patrick Steptoe in 1968. A re-evaluation of his meeting with Steptoe suggests that initially Steptoe’s laparoscopic skill was of interest for its potential to solve the sperm capacitation problem. Steptoe’simpact on Edwards was twofold. First, Steptoe’s long-held interest in infertility raised this application of IVF higher in Edwards’priorities. Second, Steptoe offered a long-term partnership, in which oocyte collection without in-vitro maturation was a possibility.The professional criticism generated by their work together encouraged Edwards to pursue a deliberate programme of public education about the issues raised and to challenge and develop professional bioethical thought and discourse about reproduction.

PMID:
21680248
PMCID:
PMC3171154
DOI:
10.1016/j.rbmo.2011.04.010
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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