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"The only sadness is that Patrick Steptoe has not lived to see this day because it was always a joint team effort between the two of them," Ledger said.
Aleksander Giwercman, head of reproduction research at the University of Lund in Sweden, said Edward's achievements also have been important for other areas, including cancer and stem cell research.
"We received a tool that could be used for many other areas," Giwercman said. "Many of the illnesses that develop when we are adults have their origin early on in life, during conception."
The medicine award was the first of the 2010 Nobel Prizes to be announced. It will be followed by physics on Tuesday, chemistry on Wednesday, literature on Thursday, the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday and economics on Monday Oct. 11.
The prestigious awards were created by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, and first handed out in 1901, five years after his death. Each award includes 10 million Swedish kronor (about $1.5 million), a diploma and a gold medal.
Famous Nobel winners include President Barack Obama, who received last year's peace prize; Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill. But most winners are relatively anonymous until they suddenly are catapulted into the global spotlight by the prize announcement.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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