In Vitro Fertilization Pioneer, Robert Edwards, Awarded Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2010 was awarded jointly to Robert G. Edwards “for the development of in vitro fertilization” and to Sir John B. Gurdon “for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent”.
The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has today decided to award the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to Robert G. Edwards and Sir John B. Gurdon for their discoveries concerning “induced pluripotent stem cells”. These discoveries have revolutionized our understanding of how cells and organisms develop.
Robert Edwards was born in 1925 in Batley, Yorkshire, UK. He studied physiology, biochemistry and agriculture at the University of Wales, Bangor, and received his PhD in 1953 from the University of Edinburgh, UK, for work on the development of the mouse blastocyst. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA, from 1953-1954, before returning to the UK as a lecturer in animal physiology at the University of Edinburgh. In 1957, he was appointed as a reader in embryology at the University of Cambridge, and in 1968 he became the first director of the newly established Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Cambridge. Edwards has been emeritus professor of human reproduction at the University of Cambridge since 1995; he is also a foreign member of the National Academy of Sciences in the USA and a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
John Gurdon was born in 1933 in Dippenhall, UK. He studied classical languages and literature at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford, UK, and received his DPhil in Zoology from the University of Oxford in 1959. He was a postdoctoral fellow at California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA, from 1959-1961, before returning to the UK as a lecturer in Zoology at the University of Oxford. He was appointed as a reader in Zoology at the University of Cambridge in 1968, and in 1972 he became the first director of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Gurdon has been emeritus professor of cell development at the University of Cambridge since 2001. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences in the USA and the Royal Society in the UK.
The discoveries by Robert Edwards and John Gurdon have had a major impact on our understanding of how cells and organisms develop. These discoveries have led to the development of in vitro fertilization (IVF), a technique that has helped millions of couples to have children. IVF is now a routine treatment for infertility, and is used in many different ways to help couples have children. In addition, the discoveries by Edwards and Gurdon have led to the development of new techniques for the study of development and disease. These techniques are being used to develop new treatments for a wide range of diseases, including cancer and heart disease.