David I. Schuster
Professor of Chemistry, Ph.D. 1961

Professor Schuster brings to our fullerene research an extensive background in physical organic chemistry and photochemistry, as well as some experience in the field of neuroscience. He joined the Chemistry Department at New York University in 1961 following graduate study at the California Institute of Technology with John D. Roberts and a postdoctoral year with Howard Zimmerman at the University of Wisconsin. He has been a Fellow of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and a National Science Foundation Science Faculty Fellow, and recently Professor Schuster was elected to Fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was a Visiting Scientist at the Royal Institution in London with Sir George Porter, Nobel Laureate (now Lord Porter), and a Visiting Professor at Yale University. He has given invited lectures at universities and scientific institutions throughout the United States and Europe, and has been an invited plenary lecturer at many scientific meetings and symposia. He is a frequent reviewer of manuscripts for many journals and proposals submitted to granting agencies. Professor Schuster's research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the U. S. Army Research Office, the National Institutes of Health, NATO, and the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society. He has received the Golden Dozen Teaching Award from the College of Arts and Science at NYU for outstanding achievement as a teacher.

Although Professor Schuster has achieved particular recognition for his research in organic photochemistry, he started actively working in the area of fullerene chemistry in 1993 and is currently devoting his full efforts to this field. Current research is focused on a number of aspects of fullerene chemistry, including functionalization reactions, photochemistry, photoinduced electron transfer, spectroscopy, kinetics, computations, and biological applications.

In the areas of photochemistry and photophysics, recent research resulted in the discovery of [2+2] photocycloadditions of conjugated cyclic enones, 1,3-diones, and electron rich alkenes to C60. These studies will be extended to C70 and higher fullerenes. The chemistry of C60 radical cations, generated by electron transfer to photoexcited electron acceptors such as 9,10-dicyanoanthracene and acridinium salts, has been explored, and the decay kinetics of these radical cations has been studied using transient absorption spectroscopy. Intramolecular energy and electron transfer in porphyrin-fullerene hybrids as a function of molecular topology is being studied, using a variety of flexible and rigid spacers. Since these hybrids are excellent singlet oxygen sensitizers, they have potential applications as antitumor agents through photodynamic therapy.

A number of fullerene derivatives made at NYU have been shown to have anti-HIV activity in the micromolar range, even in HIV-infected cell lines which are resistant to AZT, while they show very low levels of toxicity toward a variety of cell lines. It has been shown that the antiviral activity is primarily due to inhibition of HIV-protease. On the basis of computational studies involving interaction of fullerenes with the HIV-protease, it is possible to design new fullerene derivatives as targets for synthesis and as inhibitors of other enzyme systems More generalized testing of fullerenes as antiviral agents is in progress.

When he is not in his office, his lab, or the classroom, Professor Schuster can often be found on the racquetball and tennis courts of the Coles Sports Center at NYU. He is a serious pianist, studies with a leading teacher in New York, and gives occasional solo piano recitals as well as appearances with fellow chemist-musicians. He also writes the program notes for the American Classical Orchestra in Connecticut. Both he and his wife, Carlotta, are members of the James Beard Foundation and are experts on the restaurants of New York and many other cities.