Very early on, Jérôme Lejeune decided to devote himself to children with intellectual deficiencies and their families in need. For the first time in the history of science and after many years of research he discovered that a disease can have a genetic origin. His discovery enabled major evolutions in research and medicine but also contributed to help change the way people see those suffering from these deficiencies. Throughout his life, Jérôme Lejeune defended his patients fighting against what he called “chromosomal racism”
In 1962, after an enquiry led by his team in Paris, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who had a sister suffering from a mental illness, decided to give Jérôme Lejeune the Kennedy award for discovering the cause of Down’s syndrome. Founder of modern genetics, this discovery impressed the jury and earned Jérôme Lejeune a world-class reputation.
A year later, JFK was assassinated in Dallas and today is the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of his assassination. In a couple of weeks, in France and in the whole world, we shall, in fact, be celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the death of Jérôme Lejeune. Two fine opportunities for the Foundation Jérôme Lejeune, which carries on with the famous professors’ work, to remember the encounter between two men who marked history; one in politics, the other in science.