Leighton Coates

Leighton Coates

STS Instrument Systems Manager

Leighton leads the Second Target Station (STS) Instrument Systems group, which will construct the initial neutron scattering instruments at the STS and ensure that facility designs and interfaces support future full build-out of a complete instrument suite. He is a crystallographer with over 20 years of experience in neutron scattering, instrumentation, and related technologies. Leighton joined ORNL in 2007 to design and construct a macromolecular neutron diffractometer (MaNDi) at the Spallation neutron source (SNS), enabling neutron protein crystallography to study smaller crystals with larger unit cell dimensions. The design, construction, and commissioning of this unique beamline took seven years to complete and provided a unique resource and capability to the crystallographic community. He joined the STS project in 2020 to lead the Instrument Systems Science and Technology group, where he was responsible for coordinating the physics design and optimization of the neutron instruments to ensure they can achieve their defined science capabilities.  He was also responsible for managing Instrument Systems R&D activities.  

Leighton received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Sheffield, U.K., and his Ph.D. from the University of Southampton, U.K. He has served on many national and international advisory committees and has authored over 100 peer-reviewed articles. He is a past president of the Pittsburgh Diffraction Society and a Fellow of the American Crystallographic Association. In 2023 he was asked to chair the Science and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) for the NMX instrument at the European Spallation Source.


Selected Publications 

Harp, J.M., Lybrand, T.P., Pallan, P.S., Coates, L., Sullivan, B., Egli, M., Cryo neutron crystallography demonstrates influence of RNA 2ʹ-OH orientation on conformation, sugar pucker and water structure, Nucleic Acids Research, (2022) https://doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkac577

Kneller, D.W., Li, H., Phillips, G., Weiss, K.L., Zhang, Q., Arnould, M.A., Jonsson, C.B.,Surendranathan, S., Parvathareddy, J., Blakeley, M.P., Coates, L., Louis, J.M., Bonnesen, P.V., Kovalevsky, A. Covalent narlaprevir- and boceprevir-derived hybrid inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2main protease (2022) Nature Communications, 13 (1), art. no. 2268

Azadmanesh, J.,  Lutz, W.  E,  Coates, L., Weiss, K.L., Borgstahl, G. E. O. Direct detection of coupled proton and electron transfers in human manganese superoxide dismutase Nature Communications (2021) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-22290-1

Kneller, D. W., Phillips, G., Weiss, K.L., Zhang, Q., Coates, L., Kovalevsky, A. Direct Observation of Protonation State Modulation in SARS-CoV-2 Main Protease upon Inhibitor Binding with Neutron Crystallography (2021) J. Med. Chem. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jmedchem.1c00058

Kneller, D.W., Phillips, G., O’Neill, H.M.,  Jedrzejczak, R., Stols, L.,  Langan, P.,  Joachimiak, A., Coates, L., Kovalevsky. A.Structural plasticity of SARS-CoV-2 3CL Mpro active site cavity revealed by room temperature X-ray crystallography (2020) Nature Communications volume 11, Article number: 3202

Langan, P.S., Vandavasi, V.G., Weiss, K.L., Afonine, P.V., Omari, K.E., Duman, R., Wagner, A., Coates,  L. Anomalous X-ray Diffraction Studies of Ion Transport in K+channels. (2018) Nature Communications 9:4540 | DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-06957-w

Sullivan, B.,  Archibald, R.,  Langan, P.S.,   Dobbek, H., Bommer,  M., McFeeters,  M.L, Coates, L., Wang,  X.P., Gallmeier,  F., Carpenter, J.M.,  Lynch V., Langan, P. Improving the Accuracy and Resolution of Neutron Crystallographic Data by 3D Profile Fitting of Bragg Peaks in Reciprocal Space. (2018) Acta Crystallographica Section D: Structural Biology 74, 11, 1085-1095

Li, Z., Zhang, X., Wang, Q., Li, C., Zhang, N., Zhang, X., Xu, B., Ma, B., Schrader, T.E., Coates, L., Kovalevsky, A., Huang, Y., Wan, Q. Understanding the pH-Dependent Reaction Mechanism of a Glycoside Hydrolase Using High-Resolution X-ray and Neutron Crystallography (2018) ACS Catalysis, 8 (9), pp. 8058-8069. 

Manzoni, F., Wallerstein, J., Schrader, T.E., Ostermann, A., Coates, L., Akke, M., Blakeley, M.P., Oksanen, E., Logan, D.T. Elucidation of Hydrogen Bonding Patterns in Ligand-Free, Lactose- and Glycerol-Bound Galectin-3C by Neutron Crystallography to Guide Drug Design (2018) Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 61 (10), pp. 4412-4420. 

Langan, P.S., Vandavasi, V.G., Cooper, S.J., Weiss, K.L., Ginell, S.L., Parks, J.M., Coates, L. Substrate Binding Induces Conformational Changes in a Class A β-lactamase That Prime It for Catalysis (2018) ACS Catalysis, 8 (3), pp. 2428-2437. 

Design, construct, operate and continuously improve neutron scattering instrumentation. Coordinate the physics design and optimization of neutron instruments to ensure they can achieve their defined science capabilities and are delivered within the approved Second Target Station project baseline. Develop and execute a research and development plan with a corresponding resource-loaded schedule for activities associated that focuses on key areas that mitigate risk and aim to improve instrument performance with well-defined deliverables. Engage with the neutron user community to develop new instrument science cases and plan for commissioning and early scientific success