It’s been more than two decades since the birth of Louise Brown, the world’s first “test-tube baby,” and now one of the pioneers who helped make in vitro fertilization (and, by extension, Brown herself) a reality has been tapped to receive the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.

Congratulations to British biologist Robert G. Edwards! But what took the Nobel committee so long? The Los Angeles Times shed some light on that situation Monday. –KA

Los Angeles Times:

Edwards is in failing health and was unable to accept the early-morning call from Sweden’s Nobel committee. “I spoke to his wife, and she was delighted, and she was sure he would be delighted too,” the committee’s secretary, Goran Hansson, told a Stockholm news conference.

In a statement released by Bourn Hall, the Cambridge IVF clinic founded by Edwards and Steptoe, Ruth Edwards said, “The family are thrilled and delighted that Professor Edwards has been awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine for the development of IVF. The success of this research has touched the lives of millions of people worldwide, and his dedication and single-minded determination despite opposition from many quarters has led to successful application of his pioneering research.”

[…] Critics have questioned why it has taken so long to honor the pair’s achievements. Some suspect that it is due in part to the Vatican’s disapproval of the technique because it physically separates the conjugal act and conception. Many other religious groups also initially expressed concerns about the ethics of IVF, and Britain’s Medical Research Council refused to fund the experiments, spurring Edwards and Steptoe to obtain private grants.

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