CUHK’s Dennis Lo becomes first Chinese scientist to receive the Royal Medal

CUHK medical professor Dennis Lo Yuk-ming was awarded the Royal Medal for his outstanding achievements in biological sciences – the first Chinese scientist to receive the prestigious award in 200 years.

The Royal Medal is one of the most prestigious awards to be given out by the Royal Society, which was founded in 1660 and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Since 1825, two Royal Medals are awarded annually for the most important contributions to the advancement of “natural knowledge” in the physical and biological sciences, respectively.

There are some 400 awardees in history, including Charles Darwin, who proposed the theory of evolution, and John Dalton, who developed the atomic theory. Approximately one in five of the names on the award list are Nobel laureates.

The Royal Society highly commended Lo for making a major impact on prenatal diagnosis by discovering fetal DNA in maternal plasma, developing noninvasive prenatal testing and making foundational contributions for other types of liquid biopsies.

The first Chinese scientist awardee of the Royal Medal, 57-year-old Lo said he is most delighted and encouraged to have his work on circulating fetal DNA and development of non-invasive prenatal testing and other liquid biopsies recognized by the Royal Society.

“I wouldn’t have developed the non-invasive prenatal diagnostic test without the support of my devoted team all along. I am grateful to all the inspirations, support and company from my family, mentors, colleagues, students and friends,” he added.

Looking ahead, Lo hopes this award can help draw young people’s attention to science and learn that it can be fun and impactful. “The future of science depends on our ability to attract the best minds of our next generation into the science, and joining us in our quest of the next scientific breakthrough,” he said.

Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, said, “Through its medals and awards the Royal Society recognizes those researchers and science communicators who have played a critical part in expanding our understanding of the world around us.  These discoveries shape our societies, answer fundamental questions and open new avenues for exploration.”

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