Nobel for IVF pioneer

IVF pioneer and University graduate Robert Edwards has won the 2010 Nobel Prize for Medicine.

Prof Edwards is a key figure in the development of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), a procedure in which egg cells are fertilised outside the body and implanted in the womb.

His research has helped to enable millions of infertile couples throughout the world to have children.

Fertility research

Prof Edwards began research into IVF during the 1950s, when he was a student at the University’s Institute of Animal Genetics - now integrated into the School of Biological Sciences.

While at the University, he became fascinated with the reproduction of mice and other animals - laying the foundations for his future work on IVF. He completed his PhD at Edinburgh in 1955.

In 1963, he moved to the University of Cambridge, where he worked with fellow researcher Patrick Steptoe on the development of IVF in people.

On July 25 1978, Louise Brown in Britain became the first baby born through the groundbreaking procedures developed by the researchers, marking a revolution in fertility treatment.

His achievements have made it possible to treat infertility, a medical condition afflicting a large proportion of humanity including more than 10 percent of all couples world-wide.
Nobel Prize for Medicine Committee

Genetics research

The University continues a strong tradition in research in animal and human genetics in the School of Biological Sciences, the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine, the Roslin Institute and the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Science.

The Roslin Institute, where Dolly the Sheep was cloned in 1996, is known for its expertise in genetics and genomics and has been involved in international collaborations to sequence and analyze genomes for chicken, pig, sheep and cattle with a view to better understanding disease.

Other areas of expertise at the Roslin Institute include studying infection and the role of the immune system, developmental biology and neuropathogenesis.

Nobel winners

In all, 15 people with links to the University have won Nobel prizes. They are:

  • Robert Edwards (2010) – Physiologist, PhD student
  • Kurt Wurthrich (2002) – Chemist, Visiting Prof
  • Sir Paul Nurse (2001) – Geneticist, Post Doctorate researcher
  • James Mirrlees (1996) – Economist, student
  • Peter Doherty (1996) – Vet, PhD student
  • Peter Mitchell (1978) – Biochemist, staff
  • Igor Tamm (1958) – Physicist, undergraduate student
  • Lord Alexander Robertus Todd (1957) – Chemist, staff
  • Vincent du Vigneaud (1955) – Biochemist, Post Doctorate Fellow
  • Max Born (1954) – Physicist and Mathematician, staff
  • Winston Churchill (1953) – UK Prime Minister, Rector
  • Edward Appleton (1947) – Physicist, Principal
  • Hermann Muller (1946) – Geneticist, staff
  • Sir Alexander Fleming (1945) – Biologist, Rector
  • Charles Glover Barkla (1917) – Physicist, staff