Who else can say that the method of their conception was worthy of a Nobel Prize?
On this day in 1978 the first IVF baby, Louise Brown was born, being held here by Nobel Prize laureate Robert Edwards, whose research enabled IVF. Although the media referred to Louise Brown as a “test-tube baby”, her conception actually took place in a petri dish.
A private donation enabled the project to continue after other funding had been withdrawn since Edward’s research grew increasingly controversial. Several bishops and ethicists demanded that the project be stopped, whereas others supported it. Critics considered the research ethically questionable; one of their concerns was that children conceived through IVF might have birth defects. The British Medical Research Council questioned both the safety and the long-term usefulness of infertility treatment and turned down an application for research funding.
Robert Edwards viewed these ethical questions with profound earnestness. However, he considered the risks of IVF to be small and was determined to bring his work to fruition. He was awarded the 2010 medicine prize “for the development of in vitro fertilization”. Since the birth of Louise Brown, his contributions have helped millions of people bring new life into the world.