January 4, 1985

John Rock, developer of contraceptive pill, dies

JAMA. 1985;253(1):18. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350250018003

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John Rock, MD, the first scientist to perform in vitro fertilization of a human ovum in a test tube and one of the developers of the oral contraceptive, has died of a heart attack at the age of 94 years.

He was a devout Roman Catholic, married in 1925 to Anna Thorndike by William Cardinal O'Connell of Boston. Rock subsequently became the father of four daughters and a son, and grandfather of 19. In the early 1920s, Rock began practicing obstetrics and gynecology in Boston and in 1924 he started the Fertility and Endocrine Clinic—one of the nation's first—at the Free Hospital for Women in Brookline, Mass. In 1944, he and Mirian F. Menkin, MD, conducted the first fertilization of a human ovum outside the body.

Rock was best known for his work with Gregory Pincus, MD, and M. C. Chang, MD, in producing and clinically testing the oral contraceptive,