Let There Be Life: An Intimate Portrait of Robert Edwards and his IVF Revolution (Paperback)
The authorized biography of the pioneer of in vitro fertilization, Robert Edwards, is a compelling account of how he led a medical and social revolution by making babies in test tubes. Prevailing against immense opposition when human embryology was treated like a sacrosanct subject, he was the champion of patients with infertility. After the birth of Louise Brown in Oldham, England, in 1978, millions of babies owe their existence to IVF and its spin-offs, called assisted reproductive technologies. An improbable hero of science, he was the son of a coal miner who almost failed his first university degree, but the gritty Yorkshireman rode a roller-coaster of emotions and obstacles to a breakthrough for which he was rewarded with a Nobel Prize and knighthood. Fertility treatment has become routine throughout the world and no longer creates heated bioethical debates. But after the first IVF babies were born, the British government turned down Edwards' plea to open an NHS clinic, so he founded Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridgeshire with his colleagues Patrick Steptoe and Jean Purdy. In 'retirement' he took up farming and became an entrepreneurial publisher of medical science at the forefront of open access publishing. But, alas, he never received the acclaim he deserved for the foundations of embryo stem cell science and embryo screening for heritable diseases.