Professor Dennis Lo receives the Lasker Award

29 September 2022

Professor Dennis Lo FRS (2006 Croucher Senior Medical Research Fellowship), has been announced as a winner of the Lasker–DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. 

For more than 75 years, the Lasker Award has been one of the world’s most prestigious awards for biomedical research. The 2022 Lasker–DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award honoured Professor Lo for his discovery of cell-free fetal DNA in maternal blood and development of non-invasive prenatal testing for Down syndrome, which occurs in 1 in 800 births globally. The test, which is more than 99% accurate, is now available in 60 countries. Professor Lo spurred a revolution in non-invasive prenatal testing that has saved millions of women from undergoing potentially risky invasive testing procedures, such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling.

Based on the similarity he found in cell-free fetal DNA molecules and tumour DNA molecules, Professor Lo has also developed genome-wide genetic and epigenetic approaches for cancer detection. This work has laid the foundation for early detection of multiple types of cancer, and Professor Lo and his team are now working with a biotechnology company in the U.S. for clinical applications.

Being the winner of this year’s Lasker–DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, Professor Lo remarked, “With the support of my devoted team who have been working closely with me in the past 25 years, we successfully made prenatal investigation safer and more accurate through the development of non-invasive prenatal testing. This clinical breakthrough has helped millions of pregnant women around the world.”

Professor Lo added, “The privilege of being a scientist is that you are given an opportunity for transforming abstract ideas into reality, and exploring like a traveller in areas where no one has ever set foot in. Hong Kong is now devoting unprecedented resources to developing biomedicine. As scientists, we also have access to some of the best resources and technologies in human history, such as the human genome sequence and advanced sequencing technologies. I encourage young people who are interested in biomedicine to seize this golden opportunity, and to make positive changes to the world through scientific research.”

For more details of the Lasker Award received by Professor Lo, click here.

Professor Dennis Lo Yuk-ming is a Trustee of the Croucher Foundation. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Cambridge and Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the University of Oxford, where he was subsequently appointed University Lecturer in Clinical Biochemistry and Honorary Consultant Chemical Pathologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital. He joined the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) in 1997, where he is now Director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences, Li Ka Shing Professor of Medicine, and Professor of Chemical Pathology. He is also Associate Dean (Research) of the Faculty of Medicine at CUHK. He received his Croucher Senior Medical Research Fellowship in 2006.

To view Professor Lo’s Croucher profile, click here.