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People in the News: Dennis Lo, Chris Austin

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Dennis Lo has been awarded the Ernesto Illy Trieste Science Prize, which is given to scientists living and working in developing countries whose research has had a significant impact on sustainable development. Lo received the award for his work in the area of non-invasive prenatal diagnostics and his research demonstrating that it is possible to detect the fetal genome from maternal plasma.

Lo is the director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences and a professor of medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He holds a doctorate from Oxford University and an undergraduate degree from Cambridge University.


The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences has named Chris Austin to be the first director of the new center, which launched at the beginning of the year and has so far been run by acting director Thomas Insel.

Austin began his National Institutes of Health career in 2002. Previously, he worked as a genomics researcher at Merck and as a senior advisor to the director for translational research at the National Human Genome Research Institute.

At NHGRI, Austin started the Knockout Mouse Project and the Molecular Libraries Roadmap Initiative. He also served as director of the Therapeutics of Rare and Neglected Diseases program and the NIH Chemical Genomics Center and as scientific director of the NIH Center for Translational Therapeutics.

The Scan

Study Finds Sorghum Genetic Loci Influencing Composition, Function of Human Gut Microbes

Focusing on microbes found in the human gut microbiome, researchers in Nature Communications identified 10 sorghum loci that appear to influence the microbial taxa or microbial metabolite features.

Treatment Costs May Not Coincide With R&D Investment, Study Suggests

Researchers in JAMA Network Open did not find an association between ultimate treatment costs and investments in a drug when they analyzed available data on 60 approved drugs.

Sleep-Related Variants Show Low Penetrance in Large Population Analysis

A limited number of variants had documented sleep effects in an investigation in PLOS Genetics of 10 genes with reported sleep ties in nearly 192,000 participants in four population studies.

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.