Croucher scholars winning WuXi PharmaTech Life Science and Chemistry Awards

15 December 2017

Prof Dennis Yuk-ming Lo (Trustee of Croucher Foundation and Senior Medical Research Fellowship 2006) and Prof Jun Yu (Senior Research Fellowship 2016) from the Faculty of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) received “Outstanding Achievements Award” and “Scholar Award” in the 11th annual WuXi PharmaTech Life Science and Chemistry Awards respectively, in recognition of their exceptional contributions in the field of life science and chemistry.

The WuXi PharmaTech Life Science and Chemistry Awards, supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, are presented to outstanding scientists whose research are helping the world to better understand disease and find more effective cures. This year’s awards ceremony was held on 9 December at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. 20 scientists win the awards this year.

Prof Dennis Lo received Outstanding Achievements Award of the annual WuXi PharmaTech Life Science and Chemistry Awards. Known as ‘the father of non-invasive prenatal test’, Prof Lo joined CUHK in 1997 and discovered 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 Down syndrome test developed by Prof Lo’s group has been widely adopted in many countries and was used by 4 million pregnant women in China in 2017. Prof Lo was also the only Hong Kong scientist being listed on the “Top 20 Translational Researchers of 2016” recently by the authoritative scientific journal Nature Biotechnology. Translational research refers to the effective transformation of biomedical research results to technologies and drugs that could be applied clinically. Such research acts as a bridge from the bench in the laboratory to the bedside in the hospital.

Prof Lo remarked, “I am most grateful and humbled to have been chosen to receive this honour. For scientists, all of us wish to leave the first footprint in our research area and to turn a new page in the history of science. This award encourages our team to continue the innovation in research and benefit society and patients.”

Prof Lo is leading a multidisciplinary team to develop 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.

Another recipient of the WuXi PharmaTech Life Science and Chemistry Awards – Scholar Award, Prof Jun YU, is an expert in gastroenterology research. Over the years, she has made new findings in the areas of gastrointestinal cancers in relation to the genomic and epigenomic molecular mechanisms, cancer biomarkers, cancer therapy, fatty liver disease and liver cancer. Her researches have far-reaching implications for understanding the pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of gastric cancer, colon cancer and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Prof Yu expressed her gratitude, “The award has spurred and encouraged both myself and my team. We hope to conduct more researches with high quality in order to transform research results to clinical applications, and to provide patients with better treatment.”