Jérôme Lejeune (1926−1994)
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Jérôme Lejeune was a French physician and researcher who studied genetics and developmental disorders. According to the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation, in 1958, Lejeune discovered that the existence of an extra twenty-first chromosome, a condition called Trisomy 21, causes Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome is a condition present in an individual since birth and is characterized by physical and developmental anomalies such as small ears, a short neck, heart defects, and short height as children and adults. Throughout his career, Lejeune also discovered that other developmental disorders, such as cri du chat (cry of the cat) syndrome, were caused by chromosomal abnormalities. Lejeune also used his influence in the scientific community to promote pro-life beliefs, and often met with Pope John Paul II to discuss ethical dilemmas such as abortion of fetuses after detection of chromosomal abnormalities. Lejeune was one of the first researchers to link chromosomal abnormalities to developmental disorders with his discovery of Trisomy 21, leading future researchers to identify more links between the two.