Robert G. Edwards Is Awarded The Nobel Prize For Medicine

The Nobel prize in physiology or medicine has been awarded this year to Robert G. Edwards, an English biologist who with a physician colleague, Dr. Patrick Steptoe, developed the in vitro fertilization procedure for treating human infertility.

Since the birth of the first test tube baby, Louise Brown, on July 25, 1978, some four million babies worldwide have been conceived by mixing eggs and sperm outside the body and returning the embryo to the womb to resume the normal development. The procedure overcomes many previously untreatable causes of infertility and is used in 3 percent of all live births in developed countries.

A Vatican official has said the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Medicine to British IVF pioneer Robert Edwards is "completely out of order".

Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said the award ignored the ethical questions raised by the fertility treatment.

He said IVF had led to the destruction of large numbers of human embryos.

Robert G. Edwards's breakthrough development of in vitro fertilization, which led to the birth of the first "test-tube baby," Louise Brown, in 1978, gave humanity the power to do what previously was considered the province of God: create and manipulate human life.

In the ensuing decades, the pioneering techniques that won the British biologist a Nobel Prize on Monday have played a part in controversial scientific advances such as cloning and the creation of human embryonic stem cells while redefining fundamental social roles such as what it means to be a parent or a family.

The Nobel prize for physiology or medicine for 2010 has been awarded to the British scientist who pioneered in-vitro fertilisation, a procedure that has helped in the conception and birth of 4 million people around the world since the first test-tube baby, Louise Brown in 1978.