Knighthood for Professor Robert Edwards

PR for healthcare clinic

Professor Robert Edwards – known affectionately as the father of IVF – has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2011. He is best known for his pioneering work in reproductive medicine. His work on IVF (in vitro fertilization) with Patrick Steptoe led to the birth of the world’s first ‘test-tube’ baby, Louise Brown, on 25 July 1978.

Steptoe and Edwards founded the world’s first IVF clinic at Bourn Hall Cambridge in 1980. Over 10,000 babies have been born following treatment at the clinic and over 4 million babies have been born worldwide.

Statement from Professor Edwards’ wife Ruth, on behalf of the family:

“This honour recognises his years of devotion and dedication to alleviate human infertility despite many set backs and much opposition.  His success in pioneering IVF has brought happiness to millions of people worldwide. Bob is delighted to be receiving this honour, an award that all the family feel is so richly deserved.”

Dr Mike Macnamee, Chief Executive of Bourn Hall Clinic, said on behalf of his colleagues and former patients.

“We are overjoyed that Bob and his lifetime’s work has been acknowledged in this way.  He is an inspiration to everyone working in the field of medical research and is held in great affection by colleagues and patients alike. “

Grace MacDonald is mother to Alastair, the world’s first IVF boy born January 1979.  She recalls her early memories of Edwards. She says: “Bob was our hero. He is an amazing person who only wanted to give us a chance of having the children nature had prevented us from having. He is such a giving and kind man. He never saw it as his personal achievement – it was all for us.”

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About Professor Robert (Bob) Edwards, CBE, BSc, PhD, DSc, DSc (Hon), FRCOG (ad eundem), Hon MRCP, FRS.

Professor Edwards and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge succeeded in fertilizing the human egg in 1969. This was the forerunner for his work on the clinical application of human in vitro fertilization (IVF) with Patrick Steptoe, of the Oldham and District General Hospital.

In 1978 Louise Brown, the world’s first test-tube baby was born as a result of the collaboration between them. They established Bourn Hall Clinic, the world’s first IVF Clinic and it surpassed more than 1000 births by 1988, the year of Steptoe’s death.

More than four million babies have now been born worldwide as a result of the techniques of in vitro fertilization.

Professor Bob Edwards was born in Batley, Leeds, United Kingdom on 27th September 1925. He was educated in Manchester Central High School between 1936-1944. He then served in the British Army and was based in Palestine, Jordan and Egypt.

He gained his BSc from the University of Bangor, Wales in 1951. He went on to gain his PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 1955.

His work at the University of Cambridge has led to studies on infertility, the introduction of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, and the first studies on the therapeutic possibilities of human embryo stem cells.

In December 10th 2010 Professor Robert Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2010 for the development of human in vitro fertilisation (IVF) ‘a medical advance that represents a paradigm shift in the treatment of many types of infertility’.

Bob Edwards is married to Ruth, and they have five daughters and 12 grandchildren. His interests include farming and conservation particularly of trees and he enjoys rugby and cricket.

About Bourn Hall Clinic

Bourn Hall Clinic, the world’s first and best-known assisted conception clinic, was established in 1980 by Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards, the pioneers of IVF. Through innovative thinking the clinic maintains a leading role in the field. Bourn Hall Clinic is an operating division of Bourn Hall Limited, and is located at Bourn Hall, Bourn, Cambridge, CB23 2TN, UK
Tel: 01954 719111,

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