PROFESSOR Jerome Lejeune, the French geneticist, chairman of fundamental genetics at the University Rene Descartes and the discoverer of Down's Syndrome, has been awarded the first research grant of the International Foundation for Genetics Research, widely known as the Michael Fund.
Dr Lejeune is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Science and is as well known for hi. outspoken defence of human life as his pioneer work on the mechanisms of mental deficiency in chromosomal disorders.
Dr Lejeune feels that the increased use of prenatal diagnosis with the selective abortion of affected children, and the killing of newborn handicapped children by neglect or starvation has reduced worldwide research into chromosomal diseases.
According to Dr Lejeune, a major breakthrough could be made in the next decade. He feels that the Michael Fund's work can lead to a victory "against the disease not against the patient".
At a press conference organised by the Down's Syndrome Association of Great Britain in Birmingham earlier this year, Professor Lejeune said that it was "unbelievable" that in a civilised country the lives of newborn babies are not protected by law. He stressed that he would never withhold treatment or nourishment from a new born handicapped child.