Robert G. Edwards' Scientific Impact

1006 words (4 pages) Essay

18th May 2020 Sciences Reference this

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 Robert G. Edwards was born on September 27th, 1925 in Batley, United Kingdom.. He was born into a family with hard working parents that would bring three boys into the world. His mother was a machinist and his father worked on their family farm. The boys lived with their mother in Manchester, so they could receive an education and eventually have the opportunity to earn a scholarship to attend a University. They would travel to Yorkshire to be with their father frequently and eventually live with him. During the time spent at his fathers he would work on varies farms, this is where he grew his love for agriculture. From the year 1943 to 1948 he served in the British Army. Although, he displayed a promising career as an officer he petitioned the Army to have his contract end eight months early so he could return home and help a sick friend tend to his farm.  Having grown up on a farm and learning about farm animals’ reproductive system he became intrigued with agriculture and biology. He married Ruth Fowler in 1954, the two had five daughters over a six-year span Sarah, Caroline, Jenny, Anna, and Meg. (Johnson)

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Robert attended the University College of North Wales in Bangor, majoring in Agriculture Science. Due to him not being pleased with the level of scientific education he was receiving in the Agriculture Science program, he changed his major to Zoology. He passed his courses with subpar grades, consequently his scholarships ran out and he was in debt. He applied for a grant at the Edinburgh University to study Animal Genetics. He was awarded the grant which would allow him to start his scientific pathway. During his years at Edinburgh University he excelled academically upon completion of his degree the University offered him a full scholarship for three years going towards his PhD. His research was in the biology of mice.  (Johnson)

 During his research he worked under Alan Beatty. They were striving to manipulate the chromosomal composition of the sperm and embryo, and eggs of mice. During his work with mice he realized that female mice had issues producing eggs which was a problem for his research. He would work with Ruth Fowler to develop a method using a serum of exogenous hormones to increase the amount of recoverable synchronized eggs from a female mouse. He would then move on to work with an American, Alan Gates. They would come to understand how the serum Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (hCG) would affect the human ovulation process. (Johnson)

 (need to research about his time in the United States)

 He returned to the United Kingdom in 1958. He accepted an invitation to join Alan Parkes’ at Mill Hill in North London at the Medical Research Council (MRC) National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) from 1958-1962. Over the course of time he would publish numerous papers on the immunology of reproduction and research immune-contraception. During his research he made the connection of egg maturation and aneuploidy in mice. It reignited an interest in experimenting with mice. He would try to imitate the in vitro maturation of eggs in mice, rats, and hamsters. He would find success and move on to humans. He met Molly Rose a gynecologist from the Edgeware General Hospital who over the next 10 years would supply him with samples of human ovarian biopsies. (Philbrick)

 In 1969 Robert and Patrick C, Steptoe became partners. Patrick Steptoe was a gynecologist and a leading expert in a minimal invasive procedure called laparoscopy. Robert and Patrick made it a priority to work as equals, stop their research if they harm women and children and to not let religion and political agendas intervene in their work. Their work was controversial to both religious groups and politicians due to the lack of understanding of their ethical guidelines. The University of Cambridge and the District General Hospital in Oldham, England would fund their work.  They began human trials, they would inject the women with hormones and using the laparoscopy technique they would remove the mature eggs and try to fertilize the eggs and transfer the fertilized egg back it, they did this trial for years unsuccessfully. The hormones they were giving their patients was affecting their patient’s uterus. The uteruses were shedding the lining at the same time the eggs were being implanted, due to the menstrual cycles they transfer were unsuccessful. (Johnson)

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 Due to the side effects of hormone injections they stopped using them and tracked female patients by monitoring the luteinizing hormone levels in their urine to track ovulation times.  In November 1977 a patient by the name of Lesley Brown would be the first patient who would have a successful transplant using the in vitro method of a fertilized egg and implanted. She would give birth to Louise Brown in July 1978. Louise would be the first baby born using the IVF method. They would stop their work for approximately two years due to funding issues. In 1980 they were able to secure funding to open Bourn Hall Clinic located in Bourn, UK. (Johnson)

 Due to his research and his success Edwards would receive awards: 1988 he received the title Commander of the British Empire (CBE), 2001 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, and in 2010 he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research in developing the IVF method.  (Philbrick)

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