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. He is a chemical pathologist with an interest in molecular pathology and molecular diagnostics. He is known particularly for his discovery of cell-free fetal DNA in maternal plasma in 1997 and in pushing forward noninvasive prenatal testing using this technology. He was born in Hong Kong and finished his school education in the city. He received his undergraduate education from the University of Cambridge and obtained his medical and doctorate degrees from the University of Oxford. He was on the faculty of the University of Oxford Clinical School from 1994 to 1997. He returned to Hong Kong in 1997 and currently serves as the chair of the Department of Chemical Pathology and the Associate Dean (Research) of the Faculty of Medicine.

Research Interests

Dennis Lo has demonstrated the presence of fetal DNA, RNA and miRNA in the plasma of pregnant women. He has elucidated the fundamental biological properties of fetal nucleic acids in maternal plasma, including their concentrations, gestational age-related variations and quantitative aberrations in pregnancy-associated disorders. He has pioneered the use of massively parallel DNA sequencing in the analysis of fetal nucleic acids in maternal plasma. In particular, he has achieved the robust detection of fetal chromosomal aneuploidies, e.g. Down syndrome, from maternal plasma and conducted the first large-scale validation of this approach. This technology is currently in use in over 15 countries around the world. He was the first to report approaches for sequencing the fetal genome and fetal methylome from maternal plasma. In parallel to his work on noninvasive prenatal testing, Dennis Lo has also worked on the detection of cancer using plasma nucleic acids. In particular, he has developed a robust test for nasopharyngeal carcinoma through the detection of plasma Epstein-Barr virus DNA sequences. This test is now in use in many centers around the world and represent one of the most sensitive and specific molecular markers for a solid cancer. He has recently achieved the noninvasive profiling of tumor genomes and methylomes using genomewide plasma DNA sequencing. This latter approach has the potential to become a universal test for multiple cancer types.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 41: Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology