Carl Wood bigraphy, stories - Australian doctor

Carl Wood : biography

28 May 1929 - 23 September 2011

Edwin Carlyle "Carl" Wood, AC, CBE, FRCS, FRANZCOG (28 May 192923 September 2011) was a prominent Australian gynaecologist, best known for his pioneering work developing and commercialising the technique of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). He gained considerable international and national attention for his wide-ranging contributions in the field of women's health over a period of almost 50 years, although not all of it was positive given the controversial nature of many of his endeavours.Most significant was opposition from ethicists, clergy, academics, feminists and lobby groups to research and development in the field of IVF.


After completing his education at Wesley College, Melbourne he graduated in medicine with honours at Melbourne University in 1952. He then held positions as Research Associate at the Rockefeller Institute in New York, and Senior Lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital for Women in London before becoming the Foundation Professor and Chairman of the Monash University Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Queen Victoria Hospital and Monash Medical Centre in 1964.

Professor Wood received international acclaim in the 1970s for his pioneering work in the fields of obstetric physiology and foetal monitoring as well as in psychosomatic obstetrics and gynaecology, birth control and finally in in-vitro fertilisation. In 1988 he was recognised with the Axel Munthe Award in Reproductive Science.

Professor Wood led the Monash University IVF team in the development of the IVF technique during the late 1970s and early 1980s. His team were responsible for a number of innovations including the world's first IVF pregnancy 1973, world's first IVF baby developed using a frozen embryo 1983, world's first donor egg baby 1983, world's first IVF baby using sperm retrieval surgery 1986 and world's first Microinjection Intra Fallopian Transfer (MIFT) IVF baby 1992. The most important development, however, was the use of pharmaceutical and hormonal stimulation of ovaries for more control of egg maturation and collection, which transformed IVF from an experimental technique to a successful clinical treatment.I.V.F. In Vitro Fertilisation, by Professor Carl Wood and Robyn Riley, New Edition, 1992, ISBN 0-85575-212-6

Carl Wood held many wide ranging positions while Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Monash University. These included, among others, Foundation Chairman Medical Advisory Committee, Family Planning Association of Victoria 1970-72, Chairman Artificial Insemination by Donor (AID) Service, Melbourne Family Medical Centre, Monash University 1976-78, Foundation President of Victorian Association for the Study of Sex Education, Research and Therapy 1982, and President, International Society for Gynaecologic Endoscopy 1997-98. He was Chairman and Director, In Vitro Fertilisation Program Melbourne Family Medical Centre Monash University 1978-86, where he carried out most of his pioneering work in this field. He also jointly established the Endometriosis Care Clinic of Australia (ECCA) in 1998, a charitable foundation to assist Australian women suffering from this disease.

Professor Wood was an invited speaker at over 90 national and international meetings, and wrote 23 books, 59 chapters and 400 papers in refereed medical and scientific journals.

Professor Wood was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1982, and Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 1995 for his services to women's health and as a pioneer of in-vitro fertilisation.

The Carl Wood Endowment was established by the Monash University Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology to provide funds for the research development of young clinicians. More recently the Carl Wood Chair was established by the same department.

Carl Wood has been called variously the father, grandfather and godfather of IVF.

He died on 23 September 2011 after suffering from an Alzheimer's-type dementia.

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