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This morning the Nobel committee announced Robert Edwards as recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Edwards is featured prominently in the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE film Test Tube Babies, which recounts how his pioneering work in in vitro fertilization led to the birth of the world's first "test-tube baby" in 1978.
Edwards, now 85, began researching infertility in the 1950s. His investigations marked the beginning of a revolution in reproductive technology that has led to the births of over 4 million babies. Alongside surgeon Patrick Steptoe, Edwards was able to fertilize human eggs outside the body for the first time in 1965, but labored for another 13 years before IVF resulted in a successful pregnancy. Louise Brown, the world's first "test-tube baby," was born by Caesarean section on July 25, 1978.
Since Louise's birth in 1978, in vitro fertilization has become an accepted and widely practiced technology. In 2003, Edwards hosted a gathering of thousands of test tube babies and their parents to celebrate the 25th birthday of Louise Brown.
The work of Robert Edwards has given hope to the 10-15 percent of couples worldwide that have trouble conceiving. Have you or anyone close to you been affected by assisted reproductive technology? Share your stories about in vitro fertilization in My American Experience.
Tory Starr is a Production Assistant for American Experience.
Category: Behind the Headlines