- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 29, 2005

RICHMOND (AP) — Dr. Georgeanna Seegar Jones, who with her husband developed the program that led to the first “test-tube baby” in the United States, died March 26 of cardiac arrest at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. She was 92 and had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the 1990s.

Dr. Seegar Jones and her husband, Dr. Howard Jones, established the in vitro fertilization program at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk in 1978. In 1981, the Joneses announced the birth of Elizabeth Jordan Carr, the country’s first baby conceived outside her mother’s body.

Miss Carr’s parents had tried for nine years to conceive before turning to the Joneses for in vitro fertilization, where a woman’s eggs are joined with a man’s sperm in a glass dish and implanted in the uterus.

The Joneses moved to Norfolk in 1978 after retiring from Johns Hopkins Hospital, where they taught and conducted gynecological research for more than four decades. At the time, the world’s first so-called test-tube baby was born in England. One of Dr. Seegar Jones’ former infertile patients put up the money for the Joneses to start a program in Virginia.

But even before in vitro fertilization, Dr. Seegar Jones was widely regarded as one of the foremost female scientists in the 20th century and was one of the nation’s first reproductive endocrinologists. Work she performed in the 1930s laid the foundation for the development of home-pregnancy tests used today.

Dr. Seegar Jones earned her medical degree in 1936 from Johns Hopkins University’s medical school and did postgraduate training at Hopkins. She was a fellow at the National Institutes of Health and later became director of Hopkins’ reproductive physiology laboratory and leader of the hospital’s gynecological endocrine clinic.

Her first medical breakthrough was to identify that the “pregnancy hormone” was produced by the placenta and not the pituitary gland as once thought.

The Joneses retired from medicine in the 1990s and lived in Portsmouth, Va.

Besides her husband, Dr. Seegar Jones is survived by two sons, Dr. Howard W. Jones III of Nashville, Tenn., and Lawrence M. Jones of Denver; a daughter, Dr. Georgeanna Jones Klingensmith of Denver; a brother, King Seegar of Towson, Md.; a sister, Elizabeth Seegar of Silver Spring; seven grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

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