Robert Edwards of Britain won the 2010 Nobel Prize in medicine today for the development of in-vitro fertilization, a breakthrough that has helped millions of infertile couples have children. Edwards, an 85-year-old professor emeritus at the University of Cambridge, started working on IVF in 1950s. He developed the technique, in which egg cells are fertilized outside the body and implanted in the womb, together with Patrick Steptoe, who died in 1988.
On July 25, 1978, Louise Brown in Britain became the first baby born through the groundbreaking procedure. "Approximately 4 million individuals have been born thanks to IVF," the medicine prize committee in Stockholm said in its citation. "Today, Robert Edwards' vision is a reality and brings joy to infertile people all over the world." A statement released before the Nobel announcement said Edwards was "not well enough to give interviews." The medicine award was the first of the 2010 Nobel Prizes to be announced. It will be followed by physics tomorrow, chemistry Wednesday, literature on Thursday, the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, and economics on Monday Oct. 11. (Read more Nobel Prize stories.)