London, April 11 (IANS) British scientist Robert Edwards, known as "father" of world's first test-tube baby breathed his last Wednesday, the Cambridge University announced. The 87-year-old died following prolonged illness.
Edwards, who was awarded Nobel prize for his pioneering work in developing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) along with his colleague Patrick Steptoe, led to the birth of the first "test-tube baby" Louise Brown in 1978, Xinhua reported.
The invention made millions of childless couples' dream come true worldwide, as figures show about four million babies have been born with the help of IVF treatment.
"It is with deep sadness the family announces that Professor Sir Robert Edwards, Nobel prize winner, scientist and co-pioneer of IVF, passed away peacefully in his sleep April 10, 2013 after a long illness," a statement from Cambridge university said.
Born in Yorkshire in northern England Sep 27, 1925, into a working-class family, Edwards served in the British army during World War II before returning home to study first agricultural sciences and then animal genetics.
Building on earlier research which showed that egg cells from rabbits could be fertilised in test tubes when sperm was added, Edwards developed the same technique for humans.
In a laboratory in Cambridge, eastern England, in 1968, he first saw life created outside the womb in the form of a human blastocyst, an embryo that has developed for five to six days after fertilisation.
He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society, Britain's foremost science institution, in 1984. He was also appointed an emeritus professor at Cambridge in 1989.