The Future Science Prize, the first privately sponsored science prize in Mainland China, announced its inaugural prize laureates in Beijing on September 19, 2016 after a rigorous selection process lasting a year and half. Qikun Xue of Tsinghua University was awarded the first prize in physical science; Yuk-Ming Dennis Lo, from the Chinese University of Hong Kong was awarded the first prize in life science.
Qikun Xue has made groundbreaking discoveries to novel quantum phenomena by using molecule beam epitaxy, an advanced thin film growth method that allows thin film to grow layer by layer and in a crystalline form on a substrate. In particular, he and his collaborators have synthesized many kinds of high-quality crystalline thin films, enabling them in 2012 to first discover Quantum Anomalous Hall (QAH) effect and high transition temperature superconducting monolayer FeSe on SrTiO3 substrate.
Both discoveries of Xue have been confirmed by many other groups, and have stimulated further intensive research activities around the world, with the hope that critical temperatures for both QAH effect and interfacial superconductivity can be further increased, and these materials may become more practically useful in the future.
Yuk-Ming Dennis Lo discovered the release of DNA from fetus into the plasma of a pregnant woman, which has opened up a new approach of non-invasive prenatal diagnosis. In his seminal work in 1997 and 1998, he showed that cell-free fetal DNA exists in maternal blood. Based on these early discoveries, Lo performed a series of pioneering work investigating the circulating fetal cell-free DNA and demonstrated the feasibility and practical utility of using it for diagnosis of genetic disorders.
These efforts culminated in the method to quantify fetal DNA using next generation sequencing, resulting in a widely utilized approach for Down syndrome detection. Such noninvasive prenatal test has been used in over 90 countries. Over a million of such tests are performed annually in China alone. This revolutionary approach has allowed countless parents around the world to benefit from noninvasive prenatal diagnosis.
The Future Science Prize was established by Future Forum. The Future Science Prize awards scientists who have made outstanding contributions in the Greater China region (regardless of their citizenships). The committee and criteria of the prize were established in accordance with the best practice of top international prizes such as the Nobel Prize. In order to ensure independence, impartiality and fairness, the selection process of the Future Science Prize received nominations only from invited nominators and invited international experts in related fields to evaluate the nominated work. The Science Committee of Future Science Prize made final selection based on these evaluation letters.
The Science Committee consists of Hong DING, Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Chuan HE, University of Chicago; Kai LI, Princeton University; Yi RAO, Peking University; Gang TIAN, Peking University and Princeton University; Xiaodong WANG, National Institute of Biological Sciences, Beijing; Xiaogang WEN, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Jeff XIA, Northwestern University; Sunney XIE, Harvard University. The Future Science Prize is currently given in two categories: Life Science and Physical Science. The prize in each category was generously donated by four entrepreneurs. The donors of the Life Science Prize are James DING, Robin LI, Neil SHEN and Lei ZHANG. The donors of the Physical Science Prize are Feng DENG, Yajun WU, Ying WU and Bob XU.
The Future Science Prize aims at becoming an internationally well-recognized award, encouraging young people to devote themselves to science.
Qikun XUE was born in Shandong Provincein 1963. He completed his PhD in Condensed Matter Physics from Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1994. He is currently a professor at Tsinghua University.
Yuk-Ming Dennis Lo was born in Hong Kongin 1963. He received his PhD in 1994 and MD from Oxford University in 2001. He is currently a professor of The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Cash award for each Prize: US$1,000,000.