Behind Every Successful Man is Strong woman. Or is it “wise woman”? Or maybe it’s this: “Behind every successful man is a woman who provides a strong foundation.” I read that somewhere.
Whatever. This week was the 40th birthday of Louise Brown, the world’s first test tube baby. (July 25th to be precise). We celebrate Louise but we really celebrate Dr. Robert Edwards, the Cambridge University doctor who made it all happen.
But guess what? There was a woman behind his greatness. Back in the late 1970s, Dr. Georgeanna Jones, director of reproductive endocrinology at Johns Hopkins hospital, told Edwards to tweak with the chemicals in the culture media into one that she knew would allow the sperm/egg union to flourish.
When Edwards won the Nobel Prize in 2010, Hopkins had their own tiny ceremony in the department of obstetrics and gynecology. I was there when about a dozen of us watched the unveiling of a small plaque commemorating Dr. Georgeanna Jones and Dr. Howard W. Jones, Jr. (her husband) for providing the advice that led to Edward’s Nobel Prize.
Dr. Howard was there that day ,too. .He told me the advice was all Georgeanna, not him. I never met Dr. Georgeanna. She died in 2005. (Howard Jones died at the age of 104, in 2015, mentally sharp until his very last breath.)
The Joneses went on to create America’s first test tube baby in 1981.
But on this week, when we celebrate Brown’s 40th birthday (she was born, July 25th, 1978), we should also raise a toast to the woman who made it all possible. Dr. Georgeanna Seegar Jones.
You can read more about her accomplishments in my book, AROUSED: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything. And if you happen to have been born because of the Joneses—and knew either of them—I’d love to hear your story.