Robert G. Edwards, a British physiologist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010 for his pioneering work on in vitro fertilization, died today. In the 1960s, Edwards and his collaborator Patrick Steptoe began working on artificial fertilization, finally succeeding after eight years of work–at which point they were the center of a fiery controversy about the morality of this technique.

Despite the controversy, in vitro fertilization has been a gift to those who are unable to naturally conceive, and since 1978, millions of babies have been born this way. Edwards was 87, and according to Cambridge University, where he was a professor, he died peacefully in his sleep. You can read the university’s statement here.