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The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
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- About Us
She Began a Baby Boom
24 July 1998 7:00 pm
ScienceNOW wishes a happy birthday to the first test tube baby, Joy Louise Brown, who will be 20 years old tomorrow. Born in England, Brown got her start thanks to an in vitro fertilization technique developed by gynecologist Patrick Steptoe and physiologist Robert G. Edwards. The success sparked both praise and ethical debates.
Steptoe pioneered the use of laparoscopic surgery--in which a long, thin telescope is inserted through a small incision into the inflated abdominal cavity--and he developed a method for obtaining eggs from the ovaries. Edwards figured out how to fertilize eggs outside the body and achieved his first success in 1968. In 1972, the pair attempted the first implantation but had no luck until 1977. Critics voiced ethical and moral concerns about tampering with the creation of human life, and Steptoe and Edwards were reluctant to discuss the new procedure. They finally presented their work to the scientific community in 1979.
Brown was the first, but she is hardly the only test tube baby alive today. According to a worldwide survey by the pharmaceutical company Oragnon, by 1994 more than 150,000 babies worldwide had been born as a result of in vitro fertilization.
[Source: Emily McMurray, Ed., Notable Twentieth Century Scientists (Gale Research Inc., ITP, 1995).]