Landrum Shettles

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Landrum Brewer Shettles
Born(1909-11-21)November 21, 1909
DiedFebruary 6, 2003(2003-02-06) (aged 93)
Alma materMississippi College (BS)
Johns Hopkins University (MS, PhD)
Known forIn vitro fertilization
Spouse(s)Priscilla Elinor Schmidt (divorced)

Landrum Brewer Shettles (November 21, 1909 – February 6, 2003) was an American biologist and a pioneer in the field of vitro fertilization.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Landrum B. Shettles M.D, PhD., as he wrote for Who's Who: "I was born 1909 in Pontotoc County, Mississippi about a mile and a half west of Friendship Community, just East of John's Creek, November 21, 1909. I didn't need a birth certificate until I needed a passport in 1946 and my mother gave me a delayed birth certificate that vouched that I had been born.

I took my BA degree from Mississippi College in 1933. with special distinction; Doctor of Science from Mississippi College in 1966; Master of Science of the Fellow from the University of New Mexico in 1933-1934; I received my Ph.D degree from Johns Hopkins in 1937; and MD degree in 1943. I am a Diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Diplomate of the North American Section of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Pan American Medical Association.

I was an instructor of Biology at Mississippi College in 1932-1933; Biologist for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries the summer of 1934; instructor of Biology in John Hopkins University 1934-1937; a Research Fellow in John's Hopkins 1937-1938; and a Research Fellow for the National Committee of Internal Health, New York City 1938 and 1943 and at John's Hopkins Hospital; also as an intern at the John's Hopkins Hospital in Obstetrics & Gynecology in 1943 and 1944."


Landrum B. Shettles M.D, PhD., as he wrote for Who's Who: "Then I was a resident after I was in the service of the United States Army Medical Corps.; Resident at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, 1947 to 1951; I was Attending Physician in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center1951 to 1973. I also had privileges at The Doctors Hospital, The Paula Clinic, The Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital in New York City 1974 and 1975. Then I was Director of Research at the New York Fertility Foundation in New York City in 1975. Then I became Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Gifford Memorial Hospital in Randolph, Vermont 1975 to 1981. Then I moved to Las Vegas where I was in the Starr Clinic in Las Vegas, Nevada 1981 and 1982 and then in the Oasis Clinic in Las Vegas in 1982 to 1985. Then I became an Attending Physician for Obstetrics and Gynecology at Women's Hospital in Las Vegas 1981 to 1984 and then Attending Staff at Columbia Sunrise Medical Center 1994 until the present.

I was a John and Mary T. Markel Foundation Scholar at the College of Physicians and Surgeons 1951 to 1955. I was Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology College of Physicians and Surgeons 1971 to 1973. I had an individual practice in New York City 1951 to 1975. I was Director of Research at the N.Y. Fertility Research Foundation 1974 and 1975. Then I was an Anglo-American lecturer before the Royal College of Obstetrics & Gynecologies in London in 1959. Research Controlling Officer of the U.S. Office of the Naval Research in the American Embassy in London 1951-1952.

I served the Major Medical Corps., Army of the United States, 1944 to 1946 in the European theatre. I was on the Editorial Board of Infertility, recipient of the Ortho Medal an award of the American Society for the Studies of Fertility and Sterility in Allied subjects 1960; Order of the Golden Arrow Award at Mississippi College in 1993; The Fellow of the American College of Surgeons; American Association for the Advancement of Science; American Society of Obstetricians & Gynecology; World Medical Association; Royal Society Of Health in London; Royal Society Of Medicine in London; Member of the American Medical Association; American Society of Zoology; American Physiological Society; Society of External Biology & Medicine; Vermont Medical Society; Society of the University of Gynecology; New York Obstetrical Society; The Harvey Society; The Wisdom Society; New York State Medical Association; New York County and Nevada Medical Association; Clark County Medical Association; 50 Year Club of Mississippi College; 50 Year Club of John's Hopkins University; 50 Year Club of Vermont State Medical Society; 25 Year Club of Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center; Phi Beta Kappa; Sigma Xi Omicron; Delta Kappa, Gamma Alpha, Special Research Fisheries Biology; Physiology and Reproduction; Fertility and Sterility; Hemmoratic Disease in New-born Infants; Sperm Biology‹discovered and identified male and female producing sperm; achieved gammead interfallopian transfer, 1978; Human in vitro fertilization achieved in 1951; method for corionic sampling in 1979; listed in the Blue Book of London; World's Who's Who; World's Who's Who of science and Engineering; listed in the directory of common american and international lists of achievements; and in the Wisdom Society. Also received the Golden Medal for contributions to society of the World's Health Organization. Distinguished Alumnus Award from Mississippi College in 1993."

Material added by refernces:

In 1951, he reproduced the procedure developed by John Rock and Miriam Menkin to artificially fertilize eggs. In 1954, he received the annual Markle Prize from Columbia University.[2]

Shettles developed a method to maximize the probability of having a baby of the sex of the parents' choice. Using his "Shettles Method," couples who wanted to have a male baby should time intercourse as close as possible to ovulation to allow the faster Y-bearing sperm to reach the egg first. Couples desiring a female should time intercourse to take place about three days prior to ovulation, when the pH of the vagina is more acidic and thus more hostile to the faster but less bulky Y-bearing sperm, and therefore favoring the bulkier X-bearing sperm on a small level.[3]

In 1973, he was involved with an IVF controversy, the Del-Zio case, at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York.[4] After he resigned from the hospital, he moved to Vermont where he worked on cloning at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph, Vermont. He then moved to Las Vegas to resume work on cloning.

Later life[edit]

He retired from work at the Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2000 and moved to Florida.[1][5] He died on February 6, 2003 in St. Petersburg.[1]


  • Full listing of Landrum B Shettles, M.D. bibliography from 1933 - 1993 found at:
  • Landrum B. Shettles; David M. Rorvik (23 March 2011). How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby: Fully revised and updated. Crown Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-307-78617-3. See website for the book:
  • Ovum Humanum, Hafner Pub. Co., 1960
  • Roberts Rugh, Landrum B. Shettles, Richard Einhorn, From Conception to Birth: The Drama of Life's Beginnings, Harper Row, 1971

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Stuart Lavietes (February 16, 2003). "Dr. L. B. Shettles, 93, Pioneer in Human Fertility". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-12-26. Dr. Landrum B. Shettles, an early developer of in vitro fertilization techniques who gained national attention as the author of How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby and as a central figure in a lawsuit over efforts to produce the first test tube baby, died on Feb. 6 in St. Petersburg, Fla. He was 93. ... CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Landrum Shettles . Test Tube Babies. WGBH American Experience | PBS". Retrieved 2014-03-11. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Shettles, Landrum B.; Vande Wiele, Raymond L. (1974). "Can Parents Choose the Sex of Their Baby?". Birth. 1 (2): 3–5. doi:10.1111/j.1523-536X.1974.tb00661.x.
  4. ^ "2 Charge ealous' Doctor Killed 'Test‐Tube Baby'". The New York Times. 1978-07-18. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  5. ^ Robin Marantz Henig (December 28, 2003). "The Lives They Lived: Landrum Shettles". The New York Times.