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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2020/21 Prof. Dr. David Leitner

Prof. Dr. David Leitner

University of Nevada
Theoretical Chemical Physics and Biophysical Chemistry
External Senior Fellow
May - August 2014



David Leitner carried out his undergraduate studies in chemical engineering and chemistry at Cornell University, then pursued graduate work in chemical physics at the University of Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. for theoretical studies of dynamic and thermodynamic properties of rare gas clusters working with R. Stephen Berry.  He was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow and Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the University of Heidelberg, where he worked with Lorenz Cederbaum, later a research associate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he worked with Peter Wolynes.  Since 2000 he has been at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he is currently Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Chemical Physics Program.

David Leitner is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.  He was awarded a Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award for distinguished new faculty in the chemical sciences in 2000 and a Research Innovation Award from the Research Corporation in 2001.  Leitner served as Secretary/Treasurer of the American Physical Society's Division of Chemical Physics from 2010 to 2013.

Areas of research include theoretical and computational studies of energy flow in molecules, particularly in large biological molecules, and its influence on chemical reaction kinetics.  Other areas include theoretical approaches to address thermal transport on the nanoscale, and computational studies of terahertz spectroscopy and dynamics of solvated biomolecules.


Selected Publications

  • “Communication maps computed for homodimeric hemoglobin: Computational study of water-mediated energy transport in proteins,” R. Gnanasekaran, J. K. Agbo and D. M. Leitner, J. Chem. Phys. 135, art. No. 065103, pp. 1 - 10 (2011).
  • “Frequency resolved communication maps for proteins and other nanoscale materials,” D. M. Leitner, J. Chem. Phys. 130, 195101 pp. 1 - 9 (2009).
  • Proteins: Energy, Heat and Signal Flow, D. M. Leitner and J. E. Straub, eds., (Taylor and Francis Press, Boca Raton, 2009).
  • “Energy flow in proteins,” D. M. Leitner, Ann. Rev. Phys. Chem. 59, 233 – 259 (2008).
  • “Vibrational energy transfer and heat conduction in a protein,” X. Yu and D. M. Leitner, J. Phys. Chem. B 107, 1698 - 1707 (2003).


FRIAS Research Project

Energy flow and signaling in proteins

Proteins, the molecular machines of the cell, exhibit highly anisotropic energy transport, enabling signaling between different parts of the molecule.  Communication between remote regions can facilitate chemical reactions at reactive sites.  We are developing computational methods to explore signaling between distant sites on a protein, which we plan to apply while at FRIAS to map out signaling pathways of several proteins and peptides that are either currently or will soon be studied experimentally.  To help interpret time-resolved spectroscopic studies of signaling in proteins we plan to calculate communication maps for villin headpiece and the WW domain.  We also plan on calculating the response time of local experimental probes of vibrational energy transport in peptides, key to the interpretation of many time-resolved spectroscopic studies of energy transport in biological molecules.