Robert Geoffrey Edwards's Study of Fertilization of Human Oocytes Matured in vitro, 1965 to 1969
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Robert Geoffrey Edwards, a British developmental biologist at University of Cambridge, began exploring human in vitro fertilization (IVF) as a way to treat infertility in 1960. After successfully overcoming the problem of making mammalian oocytes mature in vitro in 1965, Edwards began to experiment with fertilizing matured eggs in vitro. Collaborating with other researchers, Edwards eventually fertilized a human egg in vitro in 1969. This was a huge step towards establishing human IVF as a viable fertility treatment. During the four years in which Edwards experimented with IVF, he experienced many setbacks. These failures in fertilizing oocytes in vitro, however, contributed to the understanding of how fertilization did or did not happen, which was sometimes different from established dogmas. Edwards also collaborated with gynecologist and surgeon Patrick Christopher Steptoe to study sperm capacitation, which became the overture that heralded a series of successes for the team, culminating in the generation of the first test-tube baby Louise Joy Brown in 1978.