Today the announcement of the Prize in Medicine was made – Robert G. Edwards, the “father” of in vitro fertilization technologies (IVF) or “test-tube babies" – a choice that is bound to be controversial amongst some. (See http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2010/press.html.) As a high school student, I remember that many believed that this concept was akin to science fiction, but I wrote a paper on the potential ethical issues involved should the scientists be successful!
The ethical questions are real, but now 4 million babies have been brought to life through IVF. For families with fertility problems, I am sure that this technology has contributed to their quality of life and well-being. Others, however, question the right of humans to “play God” or wonder why we are creating babies when there are so many children who need to be fostered or adopted. Others question whether we have too many people on the planet already. It would be nice if an award like this (and the science behind it) could be used to initiate widespread conversations on reproductive rights and the implications for personal and world prosperity. An opportunity to employ some science diplomacy perhaps!