Professor Dennis LO Being Named as World’s “Top Translational Researchers” for Two Consecutive Years
Professor Dennis LO from the Faculty of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has been named the “Top 20 Translational Researchers of 2017” recently by the world-renowned scientific journal Nature Biotechnology, for his achievement in developing a robust non-invasive prenatal test following his discovery of fetal DNA in maternal plasma. Nature Biotechnology ranked the biotech’s top translational researchers based on the total patents granted in 2017 and the most-cited patent for the past 5 years. Professor Lo was among the world’s top 5 translational researchers in 2017, meaning that his biomedical research results has been effectively translated into clinical applications. This is the second year that Professor Lo receives this honour and he is also the only Hong Kong scientist on the list.
Professor Dennis Lo Receives the Honour for 2 consecutive years and as the only HK Scientist on the List
Being known as ‘the Father of Non-invasive Prenatal Test’, Professor Dennis Lo is the Director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences, the Associate Dean (Research) and the Chairman of the Department of Chemical Pathology of the Faculty of Medicine at CUHK. Professor Lo joined CUHK in 1997 and reported the presence of cell-free fetal DNA in maternal plasma in the same year. He and his colleagues have been instrumental in making non-invasive DNA-based prenatal testing a clinical reality. The non-invasive prenatal test for Down syndrome developed by the team has been regarded as a significant breakthrough in the global scientific community.
The non-invasive prenatal diagnostic testing developed by Professor Lo has been widely adopted in over 90 countries and used by nearly 10 million of pregnant women globally. Because of his achievement, Professor Lo has been listed the “Top 20 Translational Researchers of 2017” recently by the authoritative scientific journal Nature Biotechnology. Together with the translational researchers from renowned institutions such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Johns Hopkins University in the United States, Professor Lo is among the top 5 scientists on the list. This is the second time that Professor Lo receives the honour and he is also the only Hong Kong scientist being listed.
Professor Dennis Lo and his team are Dedicated to Developing Genetic Research
Professor Lo felt most honoured for being named as a Top Translational Researcher by Nature Biotechnology again. He remarked, “Given the accolade by this top international scientific journal is an affirmation and encouragement to me and the research team. I believe that genomic medicine is one of the key pillars of medicine in the 21st century. Our research team is working on further studies in this area and looking forward to seeing the relevant technologies become popularised and benefit the community.”
Professor Lo further elaborated, “Our multidisciplinary team is developing the next generation tools for analysing cell-free nucleic acids and to study the biology and pathological characteristics of cell-free fetal nucleic acids that have not been unravelled to date. The novel tools and new biological insights will be directed towards the overall goal of developing approaches for the assessment of pregnancy-associated pathologies, such as single gene diseases, fetal demise and preeclampsia.”
In addition, Professor Lo has been working to apply circulating DNA analysis for screening early cancers. Last year Professor Lo and Professor Allen CHAN, a scholar also from the Department of Chemical Pathology of the Faculty of Medicine at CUHK, published a landmark study on over 20,000 people which demonstrated that plasma Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA analysis is useful for screening early asymptomatic nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Professor Lo hopes this technology can be further developed and applied to the screening of other types of cancer so to enable patients to receive more timely and effective treatments. This revolutionary study was among the ten most “Notable Articles of 2017” selected by the top medical journal the New England Journal of Medicine.
Professor Lo’s Works Have Far-reaching Impact on Global Medical and Scientific Communities
In recognition of his work, Professor Lo has received numerous awards, including the 2005 State Natural Science Award from the State Council of China, the 2006 Croucher Senior Medical Research Fellowship, the 2014 King Faisal International Prize for Medicine, and ‘Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate - Chemistry’ in 2016. Professor Lo was also selected as the winner of the inaugural Future Science Prize-Life Science Prize in 2016, a prize which was seen as China’s Nobel Prize. In 2017, Professor Lo received the “Outstanding Achievements Award” in the 11th annual WuXi PharmaTech Life Science and Chemistry Awards.
Professor Lo was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2011 and a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2013. He is also a Founding Member of the Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong.
About Nature Biotechnology
Nature Biotechnology is a scientific journal published by the same company of Nature, one of the world’s most authoritative and prestigious academic and scientific journals. Coverage of Nature Biotechnology includes gene therapy, regenerative medicine and biomedical engineering etc. Its annual ranking of biotech’s top 20 translational researchers is based on the total patents granted in the past year and the most-cited patent for the past five years; and the H-index, a method for determining the impact of a scientist’s body of published work.