Nobel prize for test-tube baby pioneer Robert Edwards

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The Independent Online

Colleagues reacted with delight today to the news that British test tube baby pioneer Professor Robert Edwards has been given the Nobel Prize for medicine.

Cambridge physiologist Prof Edwards, now 85, and Patrick Steptoe, a gynaecologic surgeon, developed IVF technology in which egg cells are fertilised outside the body and implanted in the womb. Dr Steptoe died in 1988.

The pair's groundbreaking work led to the birth of the world's first test tube baby, Louise Brown, in 1978.

Mike Macnamee, chief executive of Bourn Hall, near Cambridge, the IVF clinic which Prof Edwards founded, said: "Bob Edwards is one of our greatest scientists. His inspirational work in the early '60s led to a breakthrough that has enhanced the lives of millions of people worldwide.

"Bob Edwards is held in great affection by everyone that has worked with him and was treated by him. I am really pleased that my great mentor, colleague and friend has been recognised in this way."

Prof Edwards has said: "The most important thing in life is having a child. Nothing is more special than a child."

One of his proudest moments was discovering that 1,000 IVF babies had been born at Bourn Hall since Louise Brown.

He has recalled the thrill of relaying this to a seriously ill Dr Steptoe, shortly before Dr Steptoe's death. "I'll never forget the look of joy in his eyes," Prof Edwards has said.

A spokeswoman for Prof Edwards said he was not well enough to give interviews.