Yuk Ming Dennis Lo

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

2021 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

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.


It is an enormous honor to be selected as a recipient of the Breakthrough Prize. I wish to thank my research team for working with me over the last two decades throughout the exciting journey starting with the discovery of fetal DNA in maternal blood, to the many clinical applications. I would like to thank in particular Rossa Chiu, Allen Chan and Peiyong Jiang for their efforts, trust and friendships. I would like to thank St. Joseph’s College for my school education, and for planting inside me a seed of scientific curiosity. I also cherish the many small-group tutorials I received at Emmanuel College in Cambridge where my appreciation of the scientific literature first began. I am most grateful to my many teachers at Oxford, especially John Bell, James Wainscoat and Kenneth Fleming, who had nurtured me into a clinician-scientist. My work would not have been possible without the support of my many collaborators, of whom I wish to particularly thank Charles Cantor for his many insightful comments. My career is also shaped by Yuet Wai Kan, first through reading the story about his early development as a scientist in “On a Slow Boat from China” and then through many treasured personal discussions. Finally, I would like to thank my parents for their care and upbringing, and my wife, Alice, for her essential love and unwavering support.

Yuk Ming Dennis Lo