July 13 of this year marked a significant loss for all of us who work in birth defects surveillance and clinical genetics. On that day we lost  our dear friend Paula Margarita Hurtado Villa. She was a Medical Geneticist and Bioethicist, and professor in the Department of Basic Health Sciences at the Javeriana University in Cali Colombia. She was the first director of that department and helped develop one of the most important health faculties in Colombia. Paula created the Birth Defects Surveillance Program in Cali in 2010, which later became the Program for the Prevention and Surveillance of Orphan Diseases and Birth Defects (PREVERDEC). The program was a member of ECLAMC and, since 2015, a full member of the International Clearinghouse for Birth Defects Surveillance and Research. She authored more than 20 scientific articles and 3 chapters of academic books. Since her graduation, she practiced medical genetics at the Imbanaco Clinic in Cali, serving hundreds of patients from all socio-economic levels. In her work as an epidemiologist, Paula strongly supported the concept of triple surveillance and broadening the monitoring of birth defects to other rare diseases.

She was a wonderful friend, travel companion, and a kind soul; a dedicated physician with an extraordinary sense of humanity, a keen mind that developed creative and innovative solutions, a trustworthy and hard worker; and a beloved daughter, sister, aunt, loving wife. All who knew her remember how her smile lit the room.

She did so much in so little time. She taught us great things – things that we can now apply in her honor. She will be very much missed.

Paula at Pão de Azúcar, Rio de Janeiro, International Conference on Birth Defects (ICBD) and ECLAMC annual meeting, 2007