Lucia Banci is Professor of Chemistry at the University of Florence. Lucia Banci has a high international reputation for her original contributions and breakthroughs in Structural Biology and in biological NMR. She is recognized as a world class leader in the characterization of functional processes in a cellular context with atomic resolution. She has addressed and unraveled many aspects of the biology of metal ions in biological systems, from their homeostasis processes to the trafficking and metal incoroporation to the final receiving proteins. She developed a molecular systems biology approach which integrates structural, interaction and dynamical information with the thermodynamic properties of the processes, so to have a unified picture of the processes responsible of metal ion trafficking, with particular focus on copper and on the biogenesis of iron-sulfur cluster proteins.
Over the recent years Lucia Banci exploited the extensive knowledge of structural biology approaches through NMR expertise to develop an absolutely innovative approach to vaccine design, which she first named «Structural Vaccinology» based on the knowledge of the structure of the pathogen antigens and of the interaction pattern with antibodies, to design structure-based vaccines. With this approch she provided an essential contribution to the developement of a vaccine against meningococcus B pathogen, which is characterized by several variants, each exhibiting different epitopes on a very effective antigen. The knowledge of the structural properties allowed the design of a chimera antigen which has complete protectivity againgst all the variants.
Finally the most recent line of her research, in cell NMR, is raising a very high interest in various scientific communities, either interested in new methodological advancements in NMR or in the striking new knowledge obtained in biological processes. The innovative in cell NMR approach developed by Lucia Banci and his group allows for the detection of human individual proteins (a single one or more such as partner proteins) with atomic level resolution in living human cells. This approach realizes the bridge between cellular studies (which maintain the cellular environment but lack atomic information) and structural characterization (which provides a detailed, atomic level description in vitro).She has published more than 370 research articles on peer reviewed journals and has solved above 100 protein structures. (h-Index (Google Scholar) = 69)
She is one of the funders and now Director of CERM.