CUHK Scientists Awarded National Natural Science Awards
The research in “Biology and Diagnostic Applications of Fetal Nucleic Acids in Maternal Plasma” has brought important implications to prenatal diagnosis. Many traditional methods of prenatal diagnosis are invasive, e.g. amniocentesis, and constitute a finite risk to the fetus. Professor Dennis Lo is 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. Toxic organic pollutants are serious environmental concerns worldwide. The project is to develop visible-light photocatalytic systems for the efficient degradation of toxic organic pollutants. The project has successfully overcome the major drawback in the present technology by which the photocatalytic processes need to be activated by ultraviolet light, which accounts for only 3-5% of the solar spectrum; and hence the overall reaction efficiency is very low.
The National Natural Science Award is China’s most prestigious award in natural science. The award is to recognise achievements in various fields of natural science that bring significant advancement in scientific knowledge, are leading in the world and have great impart in further research and development.