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Tribute to Professor Sir Robert Edwards

IVF Opening 2008It is with great regret that we learn of the passing of Professor Sir Robert Edwards, Nobel Prize winner, scientist and co-pioneer of IVF treatment which has brought joy to more than 5 million couples around the world over the last 35 years. 

Bob Edwards lived and went to school in Manchester at Central High, and carried out the pioneering work on IVF with Mr Patrick Steptoe at Kershaw's Hospital in Oldham and Oldham General Hospital, where the first test tube baby Louise Brown was born in 1978.   

Professor Daniel R Brison, Scientific Director. Department of Reproductive Medicine at Saint Mary's Hospital says: "Bob was a personal friend of ours and we were very grateful that he did us the honour of opening our new IVF laboratories and stem cell centre in January 2008, to mark the 30th anniversary of Louise Brown's birth.  He was a much loved figure in the field of reproductive biology and continued until very recently to be highly influential even at an advanced age.  We wish his family well."    


Here's our story from January 2008:

Pioneer Test Tube Baby Professor Opens New Laboratory

On 2nd January Professor Robert Edwards, the internationally renowned test tube baby pioneer, opened the new laboratories of the Department of Reproductive Medicine and the North West Embryonic Stem Cell Centre (NWESCC).

Professor Edwards was in Manchester to address a conference on '30 years of IVF', organised by the Association of Clinical Embryologists to celebrate the birth of the first test tube baby Louise Brown in 1978 at Oldham General Hospital in Greater Manchester. 

Dr Daniel Brison, the conference organiser and Co-Director of NWESCC said: "These new laboratories provide world-class facilities for embryology and stem cell derivation and are one of only a few to be established in the UK with funding from the Medical Research Council". 

Dr Cheryl Fitzgerald, Medical Director of the Department of Reproductive Medicine, added: "These facilities provide an unrivalled clinical service to our patients for the foreseeable future and I was delighted that such an eminent figure as Professor Edwards agreed to officially open them."

The laboratories were designed by the IVF team at Saint Mary's, led by the Laboratory Manager Mr Greg Horne and the Quality Manager Ms Alex Ross, to meet the EU Cells and Tissues Directive 2007 and to provide Good Manufacturing Practice conditions for IVF treatment and for the derivation of clinical grade human embryonic stem cell lines.  Saint Mary's will be one of only 6 IVF centres in the UK funded by MRC to reach these quality standards. 

The new clean room laboratories provide much higher air quality than previously available, which will help to improve conditions for IVF and embryo development, to the benefit of IVF patients.  It will also mean that any stem cells made will be free of contamination and potentially suitable for transplantation into patients in the future to cure disease. 

This work is funded by grants from the Medical Research Council and the North West Development Agency as part of NWESCC, in collaboration with The University of Manchester.