A major new scientific award was given to researchers for their research in China yesterday. Chinese media has called it China’s Nobel prize.

The Future Forum 2016 prize was awarded to Dennis Lo, whose work led to blood tests for fetal abnormalities. Qi-Kun Xue, who discovered an exotic behavior of electrons in materials held at very low temperatures.

The prize was awarded to a medical student and a physicist. The two researchers will receive a million dollars each.

Pathologist Dennis Lo Yuk Ming at the Chinese University of Hong Kong received the price in medicine, awarded for his research in how DNA of a fetus can be extracted from the mother’s blood, with a study published in Nature.

The discovery was made in 2007 and led to the nowadays very common method to detect Down syndrome in a simple blood sample.

The vast genetic research institute BGI in Shenzhen, China, have completed over a million tests since the discovery was made.

In physics, Qi Kun Xue from Tsinghua University in Beijing was awarded a price for his research in high-temperature superconductors. It is an area in which researchers aim to get materials to conduct electricity without any resistance at increasingly higher temperatures.

In this context, the high temperature is what ordinary people would regard as low temperatures, namely minus 268 degrees Celsius. Absolute zero is at minus 273 degrees Celsius.

The prize was established by Chinese businessmen, including Robin Li, founder of the largest search engine in China, Baidu. The non-profit organization awarding the price is called Future Forum. The prize will be awarded to research done in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

The price can go to a maximum of five researchers, but can cover various types of research, Nature reports.


China-only science prize honors pathologist and experimental physicist” Nature Sept 19, 2016