Leonid S. Brown

Dr. Leonid Brown
Professor and Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies
Phone number: 
519-824-4120 x53777
MacN 325

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  • MSc Honours, Biology (Biophysics), Moscow State University, Russia, 1988
  • Certificate, Management and Environmental Protection, Dartmouth College, NH, USA, 1988
  • Certificate, English Languate and American Culture, Dartmouth College, NH, USA, 1988
  • PhD, Biology (Biophysics), Moscow State University, Russia, 1991


  • Staff researcher, Biophysics Department, Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia,1991-1992
  • Postgraduate researcher and assistant researcher (Research Assistant Professor equivalent), University of California, Irvine, USA, 1992 – 2002
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, University of Guelph, 2002
  • Associate Professor, Department of Physics, University of Guelph, 2006 
  • Acting Chair, Department of Physics,September 2008 - May 2009
  • Member, Academic Senate, University of Guelph in 2007-2009
  • Visiting Researcher, Nagoya Institute of Technology, Japan, May - June 2006 and January - February 2010
  • Visiting Professor in Sogang University, Korea, in June - July 2007 and October - November 2009
  • Full Professor, Department of Physics, University of Guelph, July 2011 - Present)
  • Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, CEPS, University of Guelph, November 2016 - Present
  • Visiting Researcher, Freiburg University, Freiburg, Germany, May 2016 - May 2016
  • Visiting Researcher, Freie University, Berlin, Germany, July, 2016 - July, 2016
  • Interim Chair, Department of Physics, University of Guelph, July 2013 - June 2015
  • Visiting Professor, Nagoya Institute of Technology, Nagoya, Japan, July, 2015 - August, 2015


  • Reviewer of papers and grants for numerous international journals and granting agencies
  • Member, Editorial Board of the Biophysical Journal, the premiere international publication in the field, July 2009 - 2015
  • Member of a grant reviewing panel of NSERC, 2007 - 2013
  • Member, International Advisory Committee of Biennial International Conference on Retinal Proteins, 2006 - Present
  • Member, CIHR College of Reviewers, 2018 - Present
  • Member, Canadian Biophysical Society Executive, 2019 - Present
  • Co-organizer, Pacifichem 2015 and 2020 symposia


Please see the Photobiophysics Group for current research activities

The research in my laboratory is focussed on the biophysical properties of a diverse family of photoactive membrane retinal-binding proteins, rhodopsins. Rhodopsins are found both in bacteria and higher organisms, and serve either as light-driven ion pumps (important in bioenergetics) or photosensors (important in microbial motility, animal vision, and circadian clocks).

We combine modern biophysical methods (including time-resolved spectroscopy in the visible, FTIR spectroscopy, SPR, NMR, and Raman spectroscopy) with molecular biology and biochemistry. Currently, we are working on three major themes.

  1. Exploring novel microbial rhodopsins that may have a role in various light-driven processes, starting with bioinformatics and ending with advanced spectroscopy. This research is important for our understanding of bioenergetics and sensory transduction of prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbes, and may lead to finding new tools for optogenetics.
  2. Using cyanobacterial and proteobacterial rhodopsins as model membrane proteins to study protein-lipid interactions, oligomerization, and folding, mainly by solid-state NMR spectroscopy (collaboration with V. Ladizhansky, Guelph). This research is important for advancing our understanding of structure/function relationship in helical membrane proteins.
  3. Exploring the functional expression and isotope labeling of helical eukaryotic membrane proteins, including Leptosphaeria rhodopsin, human aquaporins 1/2, and A2A receptor for solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (in collaboration with V. Ladizhansky). This research is important for developing structural characterization of medically important membrane proteins under nearly physiological conditions.
  • Recipient, PREA (Premier's Research Excellence Award), Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ontario, Canada, 2003
  • RIA (Research Innovation Award), Research Corporation, Tucson, AZ, USA, 2003
  • Short-term JSPS Invitation Fellowship, from JSPS, Japan, which allowed me to spent two month in Japan doing research and giving lectures in several universities, 2006
  • Received DAAD and Ontario-Baden-Württemberg scholarships to conduct research in Berlin and Freiburg, Germany, 2016