Anne McLaren

26 April 1927 – 7 July 2007

Dame Anne Laura Dorinthea McLaren DBE FRS FRCOG was an English geneticist whose work helped lead to human in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

After gaining an MA in Zoology at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, McLaren began researching the mechanisms driving the embryonic skeletal development of mice at University College London. Following a move to the Royal Veterinary College, she was responsible for the first successful in vitro culture and uterine implantation of mouse embryos that were carried to term. This was a significant milestone in the history of reproductive biology and medicine.

As a working mother, McLaren broke down the family/work barrier by creating a child-friendly environment in the workplace and chastising colleagues who stayed late in the lab to return home to be with their families. McLaren’s experience as a single working parent, after the amicable end of her marriage in 1959, made her a strong advocate for government assistance towards childcare and she was seen as a model of how to combine parenting and a successful career.

McLaren was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1975 and she was the first female officer in the society’s 330-year history, as the Foreign Secretary in 1991 and Vice-President from 1992-1996.  She was also made a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for her pioneering work on fertility.

Meet the innovators