[Tribute] The 20th anniversary of Professor Jérôme Lejeune’s death

Publié le : 4 April 2014

 This week, the weekly newspaper, Famille Chrétienne has dedicated its main feature to Professor Jérôme Lejeune who, 20 years after his death, "has encouraged successors across the globe".

"Doctor by vocation and scientist out of necessity", is how he defined himself. He was a doctor, scientist and geneticist rolled into one, who endeavoured to understand genetic intelligence disorders, "whilst tending to thousands of patients".

His discovery of the cause of Down syndrome as a chromosomal anomaly, won him international accolade. In the spring of 1958, at the age of 31, he discovered the presence of an extra chromosome in a patient’s karyotype. He received numerous scientific awards for this discovery, including the Kennedy Prize in 1962.       

Later on, his discovery would be used for prenatal screening leading to the massive abortion of children with Down syndrome. Professor Lejeune was "horrified" by this and always said that "medicine was going mad if it attacked the patient instead of combating the disease. You must always be on the patient’s side – and I mean, always”.        

"In cases where many were happy to practice the technique, he practised medicine".
 His successor as Head of the Necker Genetics Department, Arnold Munnich, recognised Professor Lejeune’s commitment "to help families as much as possible" and the "extremely humane" way in which he treated patients.

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