Hong Kong professor bags first-ever Chinese version of Nobel Prize

One of two Future Science Prize winners, Chinese University’s Professor Dennis Lo Yuk-ming takes home Life Science Prize for developing test for Down’s syndrome in fetus

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2016, 3:45pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2016, 3:45pm

One of Chinese University’s most decorated medical academics has clinched the first-ever Chinese version of the Nobel Prize for developing a prenatal test for detecting Down’s syndrome in the fetus – a technique which has already been adopted in more than 90 countries.

Professor Dennis Lo Yuk-ming, from the university’s medical faculty, was one of the two winners of the Future Science Prize, which was co-founded by a group of scientists and entrepreneurs in mainland China.

He took home the Life Science Prize while Tsinghua University physicist Professor Xue Qikun bagged the Physical Science Prize for his discoveries in quantum phenomena. Each of them won US$1 million. The results were announced earlier this week in Beijing.

“I really appreciate the committee for their recognition of our team’s effort. I couldn’t have done it without my team,” Lo, associate dean of research at the faculty, said.

“The interest in science is growing in Asia, and I hope there will be more people joining the force, seeing China as the future in science and bringing influence to the world.”

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Lo discovered cell-free fetal DNA in maternal plasma in 1997. He then developed a Down syndrome test, which has already been adopted in more than 90 countries.

In mainland China alone, more than a million pregnant women take the test every year.

Lo is now leading a team to develop new approaches in assessing other pathologies women may carry when they are pregnant.

He has already won a spate of awards over the years, including the State Natural Science Award in 2005.

Writing on his blog, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying congratulated Lo and applauded his discovery. Leung said the government would continue to help promote scientific developments in Hong Kong by working together with experts in different fields.