California IVF Pioneer Donald Galen, M.D., Trained With Nobel Winner

Reflects on outcry over first IVF, celebrates spotlight on field's advancements

Oct 11, 2010, 16:00 ET from Reproductive Science Center

SAN RAMON, Calif., Oct. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Donald Galen, M.D., one of California's earliest fertility specialists, says that fears about the 'brave new world' of medical technology that stunned the world in 1978 are vindicated by the announcement that the British biologist who developed in vitro fertilization (IVF) for humans, Professor Robert Edwards, was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Galen, surgical and research director of Reproductive Science Center of the San Francisco Bay Area (RSC), began his reproductive medicine practice in 1975. Early in his career, he studied in England with Edwards and his partner, gynecologist Patrick Steptoe (now deceased).

"Their research that lead to the birth of Louise Brown, the first IVF baby, sparked worldwide shock," said Galen. "Obviously, fears of cloned humans and genetically engineered super humans never materialized."

Galen was frequently involved in live televised debates with medical ethicists about Brown's birth at the time. Galen was responsible for the nation's second baby born from frozen embryo transfer, Travis McCullar, whose 1986 birth made national headlines. A photo of Galen with two of 'his' very first 'IVF babies' now 27, is featured online.

"This prize lends perspective about how a once-feared technology is now routine," said Galen. "We should remain vigilant about misuse of any technology and we should celebrate advancements that brought happiness to the families of more than 4 million babies," he said.

Today the national average IVF success rate is better than one in three, compared to 5 to 10 percent in the early days. RSC data from the first six months of 2010 show even greater success: 53 percent for women 38 and under; 55 percent for women 35 and under; and 74 percent for all women who used donor eggs.

Reproductive Science Center

Established in 1983, RSC was one of the earliest IVF facilities in the country, begun just two years after the nation's first successful IVF treatment. RSC was among the first in the country to report a successful pregnancy from an egg donor, and was also responsible for the nation's second successful frozen embryo transfer. RSC's staff maintains clinics in San Ramon, Orinda, San Jose, and Modesto. RSC is a member of IntegraMed. For more information, visit

SOURCE Reproductive Science Center