Professor Dennis Lo at the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences. Image: CUHK

Professor Dennis Lo elected to CAS and wins the inaugural Tengchong Science Award

23 November 2023

Croucher Foundation is delighted to learn that Professor Dennis Lo has been elected to the Chinese Academy of Sciences and has been selected for a major new international science award.

Professor Lo, a Trustee of Noel Croucher Foundation, is the Director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences, the Li Ka Shing Professor of Medicine and Professor of Chemical Pathology of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). He is also the Associate Dean (Research) of the Faculty of Medicine of CUHK.

Professor Lo commented, “It is a huge honour to be elected to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. I am proud to be contributing to its mission to explore and harness advanced technology and the natural sciences for the benefit of China and the world. I am also very happy for my colleagues here at CUHK, with whom I share this honour.”

It was Professor Lo’s discovery that it was possible to pick up an unborn baby’s DNA and RNA in cell-free form from maternal blood which completely changed thinking about prenatal diagnosis and led to a paradigm shift in prenatal medicine.

He then developed multiple prenatal tests based on this technology that are now in widespread use around the world, including tests that allow robust prenatal and non-invasive testing for trisomy 21 — the chromosomal disorder responsible for Down syndrome. More recently, Professor Lo has shown that the foetal genome, methylome, and transcriptome can all be sequenced from maternal blood.

Since he was elected to CAS, Professor Lo has received another accolade for his work, the prestigious Tengchong Science Award.

Professor Lo was presented the prize at the Tengchong Scientists Forum on 1 December 2023 in Yunnan for his many achievements, including having propelled liquid biopsy into the era of whole-genome analysis through plasma DNA analysis in liver cancer patients.

“I am deeply honoured to receive the inaugural Tengchong Science Award. My research team and I will continue to push forward in biomedical science. We are also committed to nurturing the next generation of scientists, and encouraging young people to pursue innovation in the field of science and contribute to the health of our nation and the global community,” Professor Lo said.

The Tengchong Science Award offers a single prize of RMB10 million, honouring scientists who have made significant breakthroughs at the forefront of science and technology and outstanding contributions to scientific discovery and technological innovation, with a focus on science and engineering, industry, agriculture, medicine, and interdisciplinary disciplines. The recipients are chosen via a nomination-invitation system, and the prize is open to all nationalities.

Professor Lo has won many other awards for his work, including the 2021 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and the 2022 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. He is also a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the World Academy of Sciences. Professor Lo was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in 2011.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences is one of the world’s leading academic institutions, and a comprehensive research and development centre in the natural sciences, technological sciences and high-tech innovation. Since 1984, the Croucher Foundation has worked in partnership with the Chinese Academy of Sciences on a range of initiatives, including the CAS-Croucher Funding Scheme for Joint Laboratories.

[This article was modified and content was added on 3 December to include details about Professor Lo’s new honour, the Tengchong Science Award.]