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Who does the polemic over the discovery of Down Syndrome benefit?

Published on 02/12/2014 in Press releases

Various media have been using the thesis of a journalist which suggests that:

  • Pr. Jérome Lejeune would have given himself all the merit for the discovery of the cause of Down Syndrome when, actually, it should be have been given to Marthe Gauthier who, apparently, made the discovery on her own;
  • The Jérôme Lejeune Foundation would also have intimidated Ms Gauthier and prevented her to express herself at the conferences on genetics, on the 31st of January in Bordeaux.

What happened at the conferences on genetics, on the 3st of January 2014?

During the days preceding the conferences, the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation was informed that Mme Marthe Gauthier was intending to give a speech that would affect the memory of Pr. Jérôme Lejeune, first signatory to the discovery of the cause of Dow Syndrome, published in 1959 (and signed in the following order: Lejeune, Gautier, Turpin).

So as to keep an objective copy of what would be said, which is the least that can be expected, the Foundation and the Pr. Lejeune’s family asked and obtained the authorization from the President of the court (Tribunal de Grande Instance) of Bordeaux for Mme Gauthier’s intervention to be recorded by a bailiff.

Those in charge of the conferences were, of course, informed of the procedure. However, after having been informed of the content of Mme Gauthier’s intervention, they chose to cancel it.

The Foundation therefore denounces the biased information that was given about its responsibility in the whole affair.

How can the objection be explained ?

JL labo BDFor 50 years, neither the national nor the international scientific community expressed any doubt about the origin of the discovery.

The unilateral (both Mr Lejeune and Mr Turpin are dead), peremptory (despite the total absence of evidence) and late (88 years old) statement that Ms Gauthier had already supported in an article of “Médecine-science” in 2009, is totally unfounded but not without contradictions.

An example : on the 27th of October 1958, several months after the date on which Ms Gauthier says she discovered, alone, the 47th chromosome responsible for the disease, Dr Turpin, director of the laboratory, wrote a handwritten letter to Jérome Lejeune in which it is stated that “Ms Gautier and Ms Massé (the technician) are still on 46”.

This element is only one of the numerous contradictions which appears when studying the accusations held against Jérôme Lejeune: internal contradictions, historical facts, what Jérôme Lejeune wrote back then, the letters he exchanged with his collaborators, and finally testimonies from the scientific community.

However, Mr. Turpin and Mr. Lejeune associated Ms. Gauthier’s signature to the publication in 1959 and never contested her contribution. As for the Foundation and the Lejeune family, they never questioned it either.

Confusion can be excused when it comes to an elderly person. What is less excusable is how various media have exploited Ms. Gauthier. Is this an attempt at proving that Jérôme lejeune surely can’t have made a major scientific discovery, as he is opposed to abortion and is considered as an “intransigent catholic” (horresco referens)?

The indigence of the demonstration one can find in newspaper articles such as in “le Monde” and “Libération” are good at making collateral damage: The Foundation who is named after Jérôme Lejeune and this successor, a geneticist who works at the hospital “Necker-Enfants-Malades”, both devoted to helping disabled people, which will consequently be associated to a discredited inheritance.

This ideological terrorism, currently very popular but whose origin is easily traceable, does not come as a surprise to anyone. The Foundation and the Pr. Lejeune will handle the matter the way it deserves to be handled.

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