ISPD Pioneer Award

The ISPD Pioneer in Prenatal Diagnosis and Therapy Award was initiated in 2018 to recognize annually those who have been leaders and made major breakthroughs in the science and care of prenatal diagnosis and therapy. Recipients have made significant contributions to the field during their careers. A call for nominations is made once each year and a recipient is selected from the nominees by ISPD leaders. The award is presented at the International Conference on Prenatal Diagnosis and Therapy.

2022 Pioneer Award

Professor Dennis Lo is the Director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences, the Li Ka Shing Professor of Medicine and Professor of Chemical Pathology of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). He is also the Associate Dean (Research) of the Faculty of Medicine of CUHK. Dennis Lo received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Cambridge and the Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the University of Oxford.

Non-invasive prenatal screening for fetal chromosomal aneuploidies based on cell-free DNA analysis in maternal blood has become one key part of antenatal screening of pregnancies. These analyses emerged subsequent to Professor Lo’s seminal discovery of cell-free fetal DNA in maternal circulation in 1997. Taking advantage of this non-invasive source of fetal genetic material, Professor Lo pioneered the development of a battery of cell-free DNA based non-invasive prenatal tests, including fetal sex determination for the management of sex-linked diseases, fetal Rhesus D genotype for rationalization of the use of anti-D immunoglobulin, screening for fetal chromosomal aneuploidies and others. Professional guidelines and practice recommendations have been developed incorporating the clinical implementation of these test approaches into antenatal management.

The field of cell-free DNA based prenatal assessment has blossomed into one of the major research areas among reproductive medicine and became the focus of the research degrees of many and a staple part of conferences in obstetrics and genomics. Professor Lo has contributed 393 scientific publications with a h-index of 94, delivered over 200 academic talks around the world and trained 24 graduate students. He has served on the ISPD board and as Treasurer during the Presidency of Dr. Howard Cuckle and Dr. Diana Bianchi. He is Founding Board Director of the International Society of Reproductive Genetics. His contributions to prenatal and genomic medicine have led to his being awarded numerous awards and recognitions including Honorary Member of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, King Faisal International Prize for Medicine, Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and Royal Medal in Biological Sciences of the Royal Society. Professor Lo continues to be a driving force pushing the envelope in cell-free fetal DNA analysis and research.