Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Down syndrome scientist takes first step to sainthood

Down syndrome scientist takes first step to sainthood

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
This 1962 file photo taken in Paris shows French paediatrician and geneticist Jerome Lejeune, who discovered the gene that causes Down syndrome. AFP

Down syndrome scientist takes first step to sainthood

The French scientist who discovered the cause of Down syndrome has taken the first step to sainthood, the Vatican said on January 21.

Pope Francis has recognised the “heroic virtues” of Professor Jerome Lejeune, who died in 1994 aged 67, a statement said.

This clears the way for Lejeune to be beatified in the future, provided that the Vatican attributes a miracle to him.

Beatification is one step removed from sainthood, which normally comes after the attribution of a second miracle.

In 1958, Lejeune and two other researchers discovered that Down syndrome sufferers are born with an extra chromosome.

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder associated with mental and physical disabilities, recorded in 23 out of every 10,000 births in the EU in 2015.

Lejeune’s research helped the prenatal detection of the disorder, sometimes leading to abortions – something he strongly objected to.

The professor became a passionate anti-abortion campaigner, working with the Vatican on the issue and becoming personal friends with Pope John Paul II, who was recently made a saint.

A foundation in his name now supports research and treatment for genetic intelligence disorders, and is engaged in anti-abortion advocacy.


  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration