Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Patrick Christopher Steptoe (June 9,1913, Witney, England - March 21,1988), 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 fertilisation. The birth of the first test-tube baby, Louise Joy Brown, occurred on July 25, 1978.
After the second World War, he studied obstetrics and, in 1951 he started to work at the Oldham General Hospital. From Dr. 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 accomodate 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.
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