The Award alternates between French and American scientists, and is awarded by the National Academy of Sciences and the French Academy of Sciences in alternating years to a scientist from the other country. The award is selected by a seven-member jury representing both the French and the US Academies. The recipient receives a $75,000 prize, funding to visit a lab or research institution in the awarding country, and an invitation to give the Lounsbery Lecture in the awarding country.
The Lounsbery Award was established in 1979 by Vera Lounsbery in memory of her husband, Richard Lounsbery, and is funded by the Richard Lounsbery Foundation. Richard and Vera met in Paris after World War I, and the couple divided their time between Paris and New York.