Name Patrick Steptoe
|Known for In vitro fertilisation|
|Born Patrick Christopher Steptoe9 June 1913Oxford, England (1913-06-09) |
Institutions Oldham General HospitalBourn Hall Clinic
Alma mater King's College LondonSt George's Hospital Medical School
Died March 21, 1988, Canterbury, United Kingdom
Education King's College London, St George's, University of London, University of London
Notable awards Order of the British Empire, Royal Society
Patrick Christopher Steptoe CBE FRS (9 June 1913, Oxford, England – 21 March 1988, Canterbury) was a British obstetrician and gynaecologist and a pioneer of fertility treatment. Steptoe was responsible with biologist and physiologist Robert Edwards for developing in vitro fertilization. Louise Joy Brown, the first test-tube baby, was born on 25 July 1978. Edwards was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the development of in vitro fertilization, however because the Nobel Prize is not awarded posthumously, Steptoe was not eligible for consideration.
Steptoe was educated at The Grammar School, Witney (since 1968 the comprehensive Henry Box School) in Oxfordshire. He went to King's College London and graduated from St George's Hospital Medical School, London in 1939.
After the Second World War, he studied obstetrics and, in 1951 he started to work at the Oldham General Hospital. From Raoul Palmer he learned the technique of laparoscopy and promoted its usefulness. In 1967 he published a book on Laparoscopy in Gynaecology. Subsequently, Robert Edwards, a physiologist from the University of Cambridge, contacted him and got him interested to collaborate in the development of in vitro fertilization.
Work with Edwards
Steptoe became the Director of the Centre for Human Reproduction, Oldham in 1969. Using laparoscopy, he collected the ova from volunteering infertile women who saw his place as their last hope to achieve a pregnancy. Edwards and his assistant Jean Purdy provided the laboratory expertise. During this time they had to endure criticism and hostility to their work. Finally, in 1978, the birth of Louise Brown changed everything. Although he encountered further criticism, other clinics were able to follow the lead and patients responded. To accommodate the increased patient number and train specialists, he and Edwards founded the Bourn Hall Clinic, Cambridgeshire in 1980 of which he was a Medical Director until his death.
Awards and honours
Steptoe was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in March 1987 His nomination reads:
A plaque was unveiled at the Bourn Hall Clinic in July 2013 by Louise Brown and Alastair MacDonald - the world's first IVF baby boy - commemorating Steptoe and Edwards. Steptoe is also commemorated with a plaque at the Maternity Ward at the Royal Oldham Hospital.
Steptoe is buried in Bourn churchyard.