July 25, 1978 – Louise Joy Brown was born, becoming the world’s first baby conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Her parents, Lesley and Peter Brown suffered years of infertility before participating in (what was then) an experimental procedure. Today, IVF is a safe and effective treatment for many patients experiencing infertility. Millions of babies have been born, and families grown, through this technology.
Who invented IVF?
Dr. Robert Edwards was the pioneer of IVF. After the birth of his own daughters, he was saddened that a couple he and his wife were friends with, could not have children. During the 1950’s, in his early days in research, he studied reproduction in mice and experimented with the effect of various fertility drugs. Thinking of his friends, he started to speculate if he could duplicate the same experiments with human fertility.
Edwards wondered if he could “pluck the egg from the ovary [of a woman] and fertilize it in the laboratory,” he wrote in his book, A Matter of Life. More importantly, he thought, if he could transfer the resultant embryo back into the woman’s womb, he’d solve one of mankind’s most vexing biological problems–infertility.
Although he had a few successful attempts at fertilizing human eggs in a petri dish in the early 1960’s, he was still a long way from true success.
Partners in IVF
In 1968, Dr. Edwards met Dr. Patrick Steptoe, an English gynecologist who developed the laparoscopy procedure. This technique of abdominal surgery allowed mature human eggs to be retrieved from a woman’s ovaries. The two decided to collaborate in their research.
Edwards and Steptoe were denied research funding. Their family relationships strained. Critics of their work said the babies would be abnormal. Then the first IVF pregnancy was ectopic (implanting in the fallopian tube, not the uterus) and needed to be terminated. Overcoming these obstacles took nearly a decade, before the two physicians ultimately reached their goal.
The birth of a miracle
In November 1977, Lesley Brown underwent the first successful IVF procedure. Louise’s birth in 1978 made headlines around the world. Her birth also brought hope to millions.
Several years after Louise was born, Lesley and Peter Brown had a second daughter named Natalie. She was also conceived through IVF. In May 1999, Natalie made history herself by becoming the first IVF baby to give birth to her own child. Her baby was conceived naturally. This relieved many fears that female IVF babies would not be able to get pregnant without assistance from artificial reproductive technology.
Each year on July 25th, we celebrate World IVF Day and World Embryologist Day in honor of all the brave men and women who have changed the landscape of human fertility.
The birth of GENESIS
Over the decades, GENESIS Fertility & Reproductive Medicine has grown to become a nationally recognized center of excellence for the treatment of infertility. Our physicians and staff have a calling to help patients build their families.
Richard Grazi, MD, FACOG, FACS
Dr. Grazi is the founder of GENESIS. He recalled, “The thought of becoming a doctor came late to me, actually during my post-high school stint in an Israeli yeshiva. I never thought about becoming a gynecologist. But I had an epiphany after my first year of medical school, when the first “test tube baby” was born. The birth of this one baby, and how it was accomplished, all seemed so exciting and fresh. It was something new, scientific but very artful, very out-of-the-box. I was interested in both genetics as well as surgery, so it was a good combination.”
Katherine Melzer Ross, MD, FACOG
Dr. Ross is the Director of the IVF Program at GENESIS. Since attending her first birth as a medical student, she has always known that providing care to women is where her passion lies. She has brought this passion to GENESIS since joining us in 2013.
Alka Goyal, PhD, HCLD/CC
Dr. Goyal is the Director of Laboratories at GENESIS. Her extensive research and clinical experiences include benchmark work in molecular biology and expertise in all aspects of IVF, including vitrification and stem cells.
Tendai Chiware, MD, FACOG
Dr. Chiware has worked extensively with the World Health Organization, traveling on short missions around the world to improve access to reproductive services.
Alexander M. Kotlyar, MD, FACOG
Dr. Kotlyar is a reproductive endocrinologist and surgeon, committed to providing compassionate, efficient and evidence-based care for his patients.
David Kulak, MD, FACOG
Dr. Kulak has developed and led research studies aimed at optimizing IVF success rates.
In addition to the expert services of our reproductive endocrinologists, the GENESIS team includes care from other specialists that can be crucial to success.
- Jacob Khurgin, DO – a urologist specializing in male fertility
- Kris Bevilacqua, Ph.D. – a psychologist with special expertise in counseling individuals and couples with infertility
- Katherine Mah, M.S. – a genetic counselor with special training in genetic diseases and the fertility procedures used to overcome them
Our nursing, clinical and administrative staff have been thoroughly sensitized to the special needs of patients with infertility. We have made a priority of combining medical excellence with compassionate care. At GENESIS, our mission is to help patients realize the dream of parenthood.