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HK scientists awarded National Natural Science Award

Two scientists of the Chinese University of Hong Kong were conferred National Natural Science Award in recognition of the outstanding achievements in their own field, announced the university here Monday.

The two awardees, Professor of Chemical Pathology Dennis Lo Yuk- ming and Professor of Chemistry Jimmy Yu Chai-mei, were each conferred a National Natural Science Award (second-class category) in recognition of their achievements in the projects "Biology and Diagnostic Applications of Fetal Nucleic Acids in Maternal Plasma" and "Photocatalytic Degradation of Persistent Organic Pollutants", respectively.

Professor Lo's research has brought important implications to prenatal diagnosis. He was the first to demonstrate that fetal DNA is present in the plasma of a pregnant woman and has laid a solid foundation for the subsequent use of circulating fetal DNA for non- invasive prenatal diagnosis.

He also has demonstrated, for the first time in the world, that the fetus will release its RNA, products of gene expression, into the plasma of mother.

The detection of circulating fetal RNA therefore provides a promising means to monitor the gene expression profile of an unborn fetus. This discovery has greatly enhanced the diagnostic application of plasma-based molecular diagnostics.

The project "Photocatalytic Degradation of Persistent Organic Pollutants" is in the field of environmental science and technology, and involves the inter-disciplines of environmental science, chemistry and material science.

It has successfully overcome the major drawback in the present technology by which the photocatalytic processes need to be activated by ultraviolet light.

The National Natural Science Award is China's most prestigious award in natural science. The award is to recognize achievements in various fields of natural science that bring significant advancement in scientific knowledge.


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