David MacMillan

Princeton University


Election Year: 2018
Primary Section: 14, Chemistry
Membership Type: Member

Biosketch

Dave MacMillan was born in Bellshill, Scotland and received his undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of Glasgow, where he worked with Dr. Ernie Colvin. In 1990, he began his doctoral studies under the direction of Professor Larry Overman at the University of California, Irvine, before undertaking a postdoctoral position with Professor Dave Evans at Harvard University (1996). He began his independent career at University of California, Berkeley in July of 1998 before moving to Caltech in June of 2000 (Earle C. Anthony Chair of Organic Chemistry). In 2006, Dave moved to the east coast of the US to take up the position of James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor at Princeton University and he served as Department Chair from 2010-15.

Dave has received several awards including the Nagoya Medal (Japan 2019), ACS Somorjai Catalysis Award (2018), Noyori Prize, Japan (2018), Janssen Pharmaceutica Prize, Belgium (2016), Max Tischler Prize Harvard (2016), Ernst Schering Award in Biology, Chemistry and Medicine, Germany (2015), ACS Harrison Howe Award (2014), NJ ACS Molecular Design Award (2014), ACS Award for Creativity in Synthesis (2011), the Mitsui Catalysis Award, Japan (2011), ACS Cope Scholar Award (2007), ACS EJ Corey Award (2005), the Corday-Morgan Medal (2005).

In 2018, Dave was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.  In 2012 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Dave helped launch and was editor-in-chief of Chemical Sciences (2009-1014) and has served as Chair of the NIH Study Section SBCA.

Dave is a scientific consultant with Pfizer (worldwide), Merck (worldwide), Amgen (worldwide), Biogen Biopharma, Abbvie Research Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals, UCB-Celtech, Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and Gilead Research Laboratories.

Dave is also a member of the scientific advisory boards of Firmenich (Switzerland) and Kadmon Pharmaceuticals (US), and a permanent member of the RSRC board at Merck Research Laboratories. 

Based on a gift of $45 million from Princeton University, Tony Evnin (Venrock), Dave helped launch the Princeton Catalysis Initiative (PCI), of which he is now director.

Along with Dr. Paul Reider, Dave is a co-founder of Chiromics LLC, a growing biotech that seeks to devise new strategies and screening techniques for the identification of drug-like molecules.

Research Interests

David MacMillan’s research interests lie in new chemical concepts and reactivities and their application to the invention or discovery of new chemical reactions. MacMillan has a particular focus on helping to develop areas of catalysis that were previously unknown or underappreciated in the broader community of molecule construction.  Specific lines of research include 1)  organocatalysis, the use of organic catalysts to mediate enantioselective organic transformations; 2) Cascade Catalysis, the application of using multiple catalysts in sequences that allow rapid access to molecular complexity; 3) SOMO catalysis, the merger of organocatalysis and open-shell, radical chemistry, 4) Photoredox catalysis, the application of visible light mediated catalytic reactions in organic chemistry; 5) Metallophotoredox catalysis, the combination of photocatalysis with organometallic chemistry; and 6) PotochemBio, the use of visible light catalysis to enable new transformation for application in chemical biology (including bioconjugation and protein labeling). Last the application and adoption of these catalysis concepts in the pharmaceutical industry (and other chemical industries) has been a further objective for MacMillan’s research program.

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