The University of Hawaii at Manoa scientist whose work with animals laid the important, early groundwork in in-vitro fertilization is elated by the selection, announced yesterday, of Dr. Robert Edwards of Britain to receive the 2010 Nobel Prize in Medicine for the development of in-vitro fertilization in humans.
Dr. Ryuzo Yanagimachi, Professor Emeritus at the UH Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine, said he was surprised and delighted by the selection. “If anything, it’s long overdue,” said Yanagimachi, who at 82 still works every day at the UH Mānoa Institute for Biogenesis Research, which he founded and where high-level reproductive biology research is ongoing.
Dr. Yanagimachi, elected to the National Academy of Sciences for his own work in the field of reproductive biology, noted that the Nobel announcement is important because “this is the first Nobel to recognize a reproductive biologist, and I believe it will inspire the work still under way by reproductive scientists and their students around the world.”
“Yana,” as he is called by his students, added that reproductive biologists have found reward for decades now from the personal recognition they receive from their patients – parents struggling with fertility, who are helped through in-vitro fertilization to conceive and give birth to children.
Hawaii’s Dr. Yanagimachi is recognized around the world for the scientific groundwork he laid in in-vitro fertilization involving mice, hamsters and guinea pigs. He also worked with an Australian scientist who was pursuing human in-vitro fertilization at the time of the breakthrough by today’s Nobel Laureaute Nobel Prize Winner, Dr. Edwards, which led to the first “test tube baby.”
In May 2008 – the year that Yana turned 80 – he was honored by the world’s largest scientific organization for reproductive biology, The Society for the Study of Reproduction, which held its annual meeting in Kona. In October 2008, The Institute for Biogenesis Research was awarded a $10.5 million federal grant to continue Yana’s work in assisted reproduction and cloning.
“Dr. Yanagimachi single-handedly established the ground work, the scientific ground work for test tube babies,” said Dr. W. Steven Ward, Director of the Institute for Biogenesis Research.
When Dr. Yanagimachi first started his work in creating an artificial atmosphere where a sperm and egg could conceive, in the mid 1960s, many thought he was crazy, he recalls. That is another reason why he is so thrilled by the recognition the Nobel Prize Committee has given to Dr. Edwards.
In 1990, Yana cloned the first mouse, and then received world-wide acclaim for transferring a gene found in glowing jellyfish to mice, creating the first transgenic “green” mouse.
For more background about Dr. Yanagimachi, see: http://www2.jabsom.hawaii.edu/DRB/Research_Yana.html
From The John A. Burns School of Medicine. For more information about JABSOM, visit http://jabsom.hawaii.edu