In Vitro Fertilization: Four Decades of Reflections and Promises

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2011 Sep;1810(9):843-52. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2011.05.001. Epub 2011 May 13.


Background: In 2010, Robert Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his pioneering work in the development of in vitro fertilization, a field that has touched millions of lives across the globe. Edwards dedicated his career to helping couples overcome infertility. He first established principles of early embryo development that served as the foundation for his later work. In the 1960s, he achieved the first human fertilized oocyte in vitro while at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He then continued his work at Cambridge University. In 1978, the world witnessed the birth of the first "test tube baby". This achievement is a landmark not only in the reproductive sciences but also in the history of mankind's technological evolution.

Scope of review: This article outlines the development and progression of IVF from its infancy to the refined and broadly utilized technology offered to patients today. We describe the evolution of the field and the current state of IVF, including its current technological and social challenges.

Major conclusions: We congratulate Professor Edwards for his well-deserved recognition as Nobel Laureate in Medicine.

General significance: This article is a tribute to Edwards for his exceptional accomplishments in this specific and rewarding field of modern medicine.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Portrait

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cryopreservation
  • Embryo Transfer
  • Female
  • Fertilization / physiology
  • Fertilization in Vitro / economics
  • Fertilization in Vitro / history*
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Nobel Prize
  • Pregnancy
  • Preimplantation Diagnosis

Personal name as subject

  • Robert Edwards