‘Science is an Integral Part of My Life’ CUHK’s Prof. Dennis Lo Reaps Inaugural Future Science Prize
Prof. Dennis Yuk-ming LO from the Faculty of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) recently attended Future Forum 2017 cum inaugural ‘Future Science Prize’ Award Ceremony held in Beijing. Witnessed by Nobel Prize laureates, scores of top international scientists and entrepreneurs, and over thousands of guests from around the world, Professor Lo received the ‘Life Science Prize’ for his seminal contribution to the widely-used non-invasive prenatal test based on the original discovery of fetal DNA in maternal blood which has benefited millions of pregnant women globally.
‘It is a great honour to be selected winner of the first-ever Future Science Prize-Life Science Prize. To me, science is an integral part of my life. One of the most satisfying results from my research is that the results can be widely utilized around the world and benefiting lots of people,’ Prof. Dennis LO said.
Prof. Dennis LO is the Associate Dean (Research) of the Faculty of Medicine at CUHK, Chairman of the Department of Chemical Pathology and Director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences. Joined CUHK in 1997, he discovered the presence of cell-free fetal DNA in maternal plasma in the same year. He and his colleagues are instrumental in making non-invasive DNA-based prenatal testing a clinical reality. His team has developed a Down syndrome test that has been adopted in over 90 countries and has been used by millions of pregnant women. With the use of massively parallel sequencing and the development of novel bioinformatics strategies, Professor LO’s group succeeded in deciphering a genome-wide genetic map of the fetus through the analysis of traces of fragmented DNA floating in the blood of pregnant women. This scientific achievement lays the foundation for developing non-invasive prenatal diagnostic tests for multiple genetic diseases. The technology could also be applied to develop novel screening tests for multiple types of cancers.
Non-invasive prenatal testing has a far-reaching impact to the world
At the award ceremony, Professor LO conveyed his gratitude to his family, mentors, working partners and friends for their inspiration, support and care throughout his research pursuit. ‘My research into human genetics and genomics has been a fascinating journey. If I could start my life all over again, I would choose the same of what I have been doing.’
Professor LO is leading a multidisciplinary team to develop the next generation tools for the analysis of 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.
Message to young science research talents: Seize the golden age of life sciences
At the forum, Professor LO shared his views on the future of precision medicine. Among all, he made a special remark to the next generation of scientists, ‘It is the golden age of life sciences, and I hope young researchers will take advantage of this historical moment.’
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 International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC) – Abbott Award for Outstanding Contribution to Molecular Diagnostics, the 2006 US National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry Distinguished Scientist Award, the 2006 Croucher Senior Medical Research Fellowship, the 2007 AACC Sigi Ziering Award, the 2012 AACC-NACB Award for Outstanding Contributions To Clinical Chemistry in a Selected Area of Research, Fulbright Distinguished Scholar 2009, the 2014 King Faisal International Prize for Medicine and ‘Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate - Chemistry’ in 2016. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2011 and a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2013. In 2015, he became the first Chinese scientist honoured with the AACC Wallace H. Coulter Lectureship Award. Professor Lo is also a Founding Member of the Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong.
About Future Science Prize
Established in 2016 by Future Forum, the Future Science Prize is the first non-governmental science award co-founded by a group of scientists and entrepreneurs in mainland China, to praise original and innovative scientific researches which have a long-term international impact and significance. The award includes two categories: namely Life Science Prize and Physical Science Prize, with 1 million USD award for each donated by members of the Founding Council of Future Forum. Laureates of the Prize will be selected regardless of their nationalities and their researches are completed mainly in the Greater China region (including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan).
Awardees are selected by a committee of nine members from different scientific fields. Nominees will go through independent jury. Since the formation of committee and normination are similar to that of Nobel Prize, the Future Science Prize has been referred by many as ‘China’s Nobel Prize’. For more details: http://www.futureprize.org.