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Rutgers scholar authors definitive biography of reproductive medicine pioneer
Date:10/17/2008

trol even by married couples. In the 1950s, he joined forces with biologist Gregory Pincus to develop the first oral contraceptive.

Marsh and Ronner were the first scholars to examine Rock's personal family papers, which included diaries, patient records, and correspondence with men and women from all walks of life around the nation and throughout the world. Rock's daughter, Rachel Achenbach, granted them unrestricted access to these documents.

"What I found so interesting about him was his willingness to try to find answers to medical questions that at the time, were so out of his reach,'' Ronner says. "He was doing experiments in his office. And he would do things like inject himself with the solvents that drug companies were using for treatments such as injectable progesterone, and report back on whether he'd had a reaction.''

As director of the Harvard-affiliated Fertility and Endocrine Clinic at the Free Hospital for Women in Boston, Rock treated women from all walks of life, from film stars to at least one African princess, to the wives of elevator operators and laborers. He stands out, the authors say, for his ability to communicate with patients.

"He was absolutely in partnership with his patients. He always discussed their conditions and treatment options with them, and he trusted their intelligence and decision-making ability," Marsh says. "He was ahead of his time in seeking informed consent."

Some of Rock's research ignited controversy in the 1970s and 1980s, when Christian conservatives insisted that his earlier embryo experiments were unethical and some feminists argued that he had misled the patients who participated in them.

The Rock biography grew out of an earlier collaboration between Marsh and Ronner on the book, "The Empty Cradle: Infertility in America from Colonial Times to the Present" (Johns Hopkins, 1996).


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Contact: Mike Sepanic
msepanic@camden.rutgers.edu
856-225-6026
Rutgers University
Source:Eurekalert

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