The 2023 Richard R. Ernst Prize is awarded jointly to Professors Jack Freed and Lucia Banci, for their fundamental contributions to the development and application of magnetic resonance to biomolecular paramagnetic systems.
Jack Freed has contributed significantly to the development of modern EPR. He has pioneered methods of pulsed-dipolar EPR, especially the application of electron-electron and double-quantum electron excitation methods, for the accurate measurement of distances and their distributions in the range of 1-10 nm. Freed is recognized for developing the underlying theoretical and instrumental bases of these new methods, and for their application to the study of challenging and important biological systems – including differently populated states in the photocycle of light sensitive proteins, as well as in intrinsically disordered proteins.
Lucia Banci has made seminal contributions to advance the understanding of paramagnetic NMR in general, and its application to intracellular transport of metal ions in particular. Her studies on copper transport in cells and copper incorporation into target proteins permitted the rationalization of factors determining pathological states. She has also pushed the field of in-cell paramagnetic NMR to applications that include eukaryotic cells, which have allowed her to derive key insights about metalloprotein maturation and about metal ion transport in living cells.