In the Beginning there was no Funding

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One of the most famous births to take place in the world was that of Louise Brown, a baby girl who has grown now into a 38 years old woman. She was the first test tube baby, born as a result of in-vitro fertilization, a daring new technique to get women to carry a child that was not conceived in a normal manner. It was an attempt made successful by Cambridge physiologist Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe, an Oldham gynecologist. This experiment was privately funded for the Medical Research Council of the UK was not in favor of funding it. The MRC drew some flake for its decision at the time. A recent revelation in the European medical journal Human Reproduction pinpoints the reasons behind MRC's decision.

Professor of reproductive Sciences, University of Cambridge has come out with the statement saying that the failure of the application from the Steptoe’s and the Edward’s was not only due to widespread hostility to IVF. There were more complex reasons behind this. So the question is what are these reasons?

MRC had suggested that they join a Clinical Research Centre at Northwick Park HospitalVitro Fertilization , Harrow but the duo turned it down and preferred to apply for funds to Cambridge University. The fact that Cambridge University had no separate facility for obstetrics and gynecology did not deter them from doing it but this involved competing for funds with other research activities. The MRC referees tended to agree more with the government of policy of limiting fertility rather than making a success of new ways to produce life. They also felt that adequate research has not been carried out to ensure the incidence of abnormalities in the babies that would be born. A very legitimate concern of theirs, perhaps, was that primates should have been subjected to experiments before humans were. An element of patient safety was also a good reason for their declining funding.

Media hype for the revolutionary idea of in-vitro fertilization and its propagators Dr. Edwards and Steptoe too was not taken kindly to by the referees. Public discussion, certainly not of the doctor duo's making, was viewed with skepticism by them. And, to make the matters worse, the two doctors were not strictly part of medical establishment and they were not professors.

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