Claudio Luchinat, Professor at the University of Florence, has won the 2018 Richard R. Ernst Prize in Magnetic Resonance, sponsored by the Bruker BioSpin Corporation. The Ernst Prize, which comes with an award of 10,000 euros, was awarded to Luchinat on July 1st at the European Magnetic Resonance conference (EUROMAR) in Nantes, France.
Widely considered to be the second-most-prestigious prize in the magnetic resonance community, the Ernst Prize is named after the magnetic resonance pioneer Professor Richard R. Ernst of ETH Zurich, a Swiss physical chemist who won the Nobel Prize in 1991 for pioneering experiments that introduced Fourier transform and multidimensional nuclear magnetic resonance to chemistry. Today, just about every chemist interested in determining molecular structure in liquids or solids utilizes these techniques. This is the third edition of the Prize, and the first time that it is awarded to a European scientist, the previous winners being Alexander Pines (UC Berkeley) and Robert G. Griffin (MIT).
The Ernst Prize is intended to recognize research published in the last three years, although the origins of the winner's ideas and experiments may have extended over a longer period. At variance with other prizes, the Ernst prize is given to reward achievements that go beyond fundamental research, for groundbreaking applications of new or of previously known techniques in all areas of magnetic resonance.
"I am very honored and flattered that my colleagues in the Ernst Prize Committee have selected me for this Prize," said Luchinat with gratitude, “sensing the esteem of colleagues is a great fuel for a scientist, and a great stimulus to do always better”.
Luchinat, who together with Lucia Banci directs CERM, the Magnetic Resonance Center of the University of Florence, an important node of the European Structural Biology Infrastructure Instruct-ERIC, was selected for this award “For his outstanding contributions to the field of NMR in general, and for his success in translating NMR advancements into applications: from the understanding of how to optimize contrast agents for MRI, to the opening of new structural biology applications relying in solid and solution-state NMR, to the recent development of NMR metabolomics into a valuable early diagnosis tool”.
Recent results that emerged from Luchinat’s lab include a revolutionary way of identifying/quantifying metabolites in biological fluids, including those that are NMR-invisible such as inorganic ions, opening the way to the high-throughput, and potentially population-wide, use of NMR for routine clinical checkups.