Dennis Lo Wins 2021 Breakthrough Prize In Life Sciences

Lo received the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for developing noninvasive genetic fetal screening tests used by millions of prospective parents worldwide.

AsianScientist (Sep. 11, 2020)Dennis Lo Yuk Ming of the Chinese University of Hong Kong was revealed today as a winner of the 2021 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences together with David Baker, Catherine Dulac and Richard Youle.

Lo received the Prize “for discovering that fetal DNA is present in maternal blood and can be used for the prenatal testing of trisomy 21 and other genetic disorders.”

Before the advent of non-invasive prenatal testing, the only way pregnant mothers could find out about the genetic status of the babies they were carrying was through chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis, both invasive processes that carry a small risk of miscarriage. Since Lo first described his technique in 1997, non-invasive prenatal testing has become routine, and the industry is now worth billions.

For the ninth year the Breakthrough Prize, renowned as the ‘Oscars of Science,’ will recognize the world’s top scientists. Each prize is US$3 million and presented in the fields of life sciences (up to four per year), fundamental physics (one per year) and mathematics (one per year).

According to the organizers, the Prize is intended to help scientific leaders gain freedom from financial constraints to focus fully on the world of ideas; to raise the profile and prestige of basic science and mathematics, fomenting a culture in which intellectual pursuits are validated; and to inspire the next generation of researchers to follow the lead of these extraordinary scientific role models.

The Breakthrough Prizes were founded by Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Anne Wojcicki. The Prizes have been sponsored by the personal foundations established by Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Ma Huateng, Jack Ma, Yuri and Julia Milner and Anne Wojcicki.


Source: Breakthrough Prize; Photo: Chinese University of Hong Kong.
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