Prof Dennis Y M Lo awarded The 2021 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

Prof Dennis Y M Lo, Founding Member of ASHK, was awarded The 2021 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for discovering that fetal DNA is present in maternal blood and can be used for the prenatal testing of trisomy 21 and other genetic disorders. 

Prof Lo said, "I am most delighted and humbled to be selected as a winner of this year's Breakthrough Prize.  I hope that awards such as this one would help stimulate the interest of students in Hong Kong to consider a scientific career.  The 21st Century is a century for biomedical breakthroughs and I hope that our most innovative young people will join us in this quest."

Prof Lo is the Associate Dean (Research) of the Faculty of Medicine of The Chinese University of Hong Kong(CUHK), Chairman of the Department of Chemical Pathology and Director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences.

Prof Lo joined CUHK in 1997. In the same year, he discovered the presence of cell-free fetal DNA in maternal plasma. 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 over two million pregnant women. With the use of massively parallel sequencing and the development of novel bioinformatics strategies, Prof 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.

In recognition of his work, Prof Lo has been the recipient of 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 American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) Sigi Ziering Award, Fulbright Distinguished Scholar 2009, the 2012 AACC-NACB Award for Outstanding Contributions To Clinical Chemistry in a Selected Area of Research, the 2014 King Faisal International Prize for Medicine, the 2015 Pioneer Award at the Personalized Medicine World Conference, Silicon Valley and the 2015 AACC Wallace H. Coulter Lectureship Award. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2011, as a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2013, and as a Fellow of The World Academy of Sciences in 2013.

About The Breakthrough Prize:
The Breakthrough Prize, renowned as the “Oscars of Science,” recognizes the world’s top scientists. It is presented in the fields of Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics and Mathematics. The Breakthrough Prizes were founded by Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Anne Wojcicki. The Prizes have been sponsored by the personal foundations established by Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Ma Huateng, Jack Ma, Yuri and Julia Milner and Anne Wojcicki.

Information on the Breakthrough Prize is available through the following link:



















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