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'Father of IVF' wins Nobel medicine prize

A British scientist, who became known as the "father of IVF" despite once being considered an outsider to the medical establishment, has won this year's Nobel prize in medicine.

Professor Robert Edwards (pictured) won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his pioneering work on the in vitro fertilisation of human eggs that led to the birth of the world's first IVF baby, Louise Brown, in 1978.

Prof Edwards (85), whose funding request for IVF research was turned down by the Medical Research Council in the 1970s, is the sole recipient of this year's prize, which cannot be awarded posthumously. His co-worker, the gynaecologist Patrick Steptoe, died in 1988.

The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden said that Prof Edwards' contributions represented a milestone in medicine. His work led to widely used IVF techniques which have allowed an estimated 4.5 million "test tube" babies to be born worldwide over the past 32 years.

Tributes to Prof Edwards flowed in yesterday from colleagues, scientific leaders, politicians and the research council that once denied him funding -- a private donation in the end allowed him to continue the work that led to the world's first successful IVF pregnancy..

"The MRC is delighted by the award, which recognises Professor Edwards's dedication to ensuring his early research translated into clinical practice," said Declan Mulkeen, director of research at the research council.

Belfast Telegraph