Pilar Calva, M.D.
Senior Fellow in Science and Medicine

Dr. Calva is a medical doctor specializing in Human Genetics with a Cytogenetics subspecialty from The University of Paris, France. In Paris, she was the under-study to the world-renowned Professor Jerome Lejeune, who is considered by some to be the father of modern genetics. In 1958, Lejeune discovered that an extra 21st chromosome is responsible for Down syndrome, or Trisomy 21. Lejeune dedicated his life tirelessly and unfailingly to defend the unborn, especially those with Down syndrome, testifying before scientific conferences and lawmakers. He was appointed by Pope John Paul II as the first President of the Pontifical Academy for Life. In Dr. Calva’s own words:

When I arrived in France, I lived a life divided between faith and reason. I thought that from Monday to Saturday, I put on my white coat for my scientific tasks, and Sunday was the day I took off the white coat, put on my crucifix and dedicated myself to my religious duties. Professor Lejeune truly converted me, making me see that one can wear the white coat and the cross, at the same time. That is, one can fly with the wing of faith and the wing of reason.

Inspired by the life and work of Prof. Lejune, Dr. Calva went on to earn a Master’s in Bioethics from Universidad Anahuac in Mexico City, Mexico. She is a professor of genetics, bioethics and medical ethics at Universidad Anahuac Medical School, where she has taught since 1984. She previously taught courses on moral theology, bioethics, and human sexuality at The John Paul II Institute in Mexico City and at The University of Dallas, School of Ministry.

As a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life for ten years from 2002-2012, Dr. Calva assisted and advised the Vatican on issues including genetics, eugenics, bioethics and natural law, artificial reproduction, bioethics and the law, the human embryo in the pre-implantation stage, brain death and end-of-life issues, and post-abortion trauma.

In addition to her work at the university, Dr. Calva serves as the Chief Editor of Bioethics and Catholic Hispanics for Catholic.net. Dr. Calva has presented on medical and bioethical issues before legislative bodies numerous times in Mexico as well as on the international level. She is a member of the Bioethics Council of the Mexican Episcopal Commission for the Family, the Pan-American Society of Bioethics, the Mexican Academy of Bioethics, the Regional Observatory for Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Mexican Association of Human Genetics.