2019 Centenary Prize Winner

Professor David MacMillan

Professor David MacMillan

Princeton University


Awarded for groundbreaking contributions to catalysis in advancing synthetic organic chemistry.


About the Winner

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, MacMillan 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.

MacMillan has received several awards including: 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, MacMillan was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and in 2012 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

MacMillan helped launch and was editor-in-chief of Chemical Sciences (2009-1014) and was Chair of the NIH Study Section SBCA (2014-2017).

MacMillan 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, Eric Schmidt (Google), Tony Evnin (Venrock), MacMillan was asked to launch the Princeton Catalysis Initiative (PCI), of which he is now director.  This Initiative has now signed agreements with several societal impact companies to conduct collaborative research.

Along with Dr. Paul Reider, MacMillan 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 Activities: Across both of the areas of organocatalysis and visible light photoredox catalysis, MacMillan’s studies have been cited >27,000 times as 2018, and his lab has published 22 Science and Nature papers -- which constitutes ~20% of their research output to date.  A number of reactions and catalysts developed in MacMillan’s labs have become widely adopted throughout the pharmaceutical, agrichemical and the flavor and fragrance industries.

Related Links

Link icon David MacMillan's Webpage
Princeton University, Department of Chemistry, Frick Chemistry Lab, Princeton NJ

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