20 May 2011

CUHK Pioneer Scientist in Non-invasive Prenatal Diagnosis Elected to Royal Society

Prof. Lo Yuk Ming, Dennis, Director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has just been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science. Founded in 1660, the Royal Society is the world’s oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Early fellows of the society include scientists such as Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle and Charles Darwin. Professor Lo is the second CUHK scholar being awarded the distinguished fellowship after former Vice-Chancellor of CUHK and Nobel Laureate in Physics, Prof. Sir Charles Kao.

The Royal Society cites Professor Lo’s discovery of circulating fetal nucleic acids in the plasma of pregnant women and his pioneer work in translating this discovery into innovative non-invasive prenatal diagnostic tests (e.g. for Down syndrome). Some of these tests are already in use in many centres internationally. These new tests would make prenatal diagnosis safer for pregnant women and their babies. Professor Lo also recently succeeded in deciphering the genomic map of the fetus using maternal blood, laying the foundation for a new generation of non-invasive prenatal tests that can detect multiple genetic disorders.

Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung, Vice-Chancellor of CUHK, says, ‘We are profoundly proud of Professor Lo’s contribution to the global scientific community. His discovery and revolutionary research in non-invasive prenatal diagnosis has far-reaching impact, potentially benefitting millions of pregnant women worldwide. It epitomizes the cutting-edge research and state-of-the-art technology developed by the Chinese University.’ 

Professor Lo says, ‘I am most delighted to receive this honour, which is one of the most treasured that a scientist can receive. I wish to thank Prof. Kan Yuet-wai for his pioneering work in prenatal diagnosis that has inspired my research and for his guidance in my career. I would like to thank my research team, collaborators and my family for their untiring support over the years. I am also indebted to the years of support from  government agencies, especially the University Grants Committee Areas of Excellence Scheme, the Hong Kong Research Grants Council, and the Innovation and Technology Fund, donors, especially the Li Ka Shing Foundation, and CUHK.’

Professor Lo’s outstanding work in research has brought him numerous awards and honours, including a Cheung Kong Achievement Award, a U.S. National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry Distinguished Scientist Award, a Croucher Senior Medical Research Fellowship, and a State Natural Science Award.