Sir Robert Edwards, the British professor who has been called "the father of IVF," died today at age 87. Edwards developed in vitro fertilization with another doctor, and in 1978, the first "test tube baby" was born. That baby, Louise Brown, now says she thought of Edwards as "like a grandfather to me," the BBC reports. "I am glad that he lived long enough to be recognized with a Nobel prize for his work," she says, adding that he "brought happiness and joy to millions of people all over the world by enabling them to have children."
When they first developed IVF, Edwards and his partner, the late Dr. Patrick Steptoe, were "accused of playing God and interfering with nature," the AP notes. But the technique has brought more than 4 million babies into the world and "people now understand that [Edwards] only had the best motivation," says another doctor. Even so, the Roman Catholic Church denounced his Nobel prize. Edwards was knighted in 2011. He died peacefully in his sleep, at home, following a long illness; the science world is mourning his loss.