IVF pioneer wins medicine Nobel prize

British physiologist Robert Edwards, whose work led to the first “test-tube baby,” won the 2010 Nobel prize for medicine or physiology, the prize-awarding institute said on Monday.

Sweden’s Karolinska Institute lauded Edwards, 85, for bringing joy to infertile people all over the world.

Known as the father of in-vitro fertilization (IVF), Edwards picked up the prize of 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.5 million) for what the institute called a “milestone in the development of modern medicine.”

As many as 4 million babies have been born since the first IVF baby in 1978 as a result of the techniques Edwards developed, together with a now-deceased colleague, Patrick Steptoe, the institute said in a statement.

The pair soldiered on despite opposition from churches, governments and many in the media, as well as skepticism from scientific colleagues. They also had trouble raising money for their work, and had to rely on privately donated funds.

“His achievements have made it possible to treat infertility, a medical condition afflicting a large proportion of humanity including more than 10 percent of all couples worldwide,” the institute said.

Scientists applauded the committee’s decision.

“The development of IVF has given hope to millions of people throughout the world,” said Richard Kennedy, secretary general of the International Federation of Fertility Societies.

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