Dave MacMillan was born in 1968 in Bellshill, Scotland. He received his undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of Glasgow, where he worked with Dr. Ernie Colvin. In 1990, Dave left the UK to begin his doctoral studies under the direction of Professor Larry Overman at the University of California, Irvine. During this time Dave focused on the development of new reaction methodology directed towards the total synthesis of 7-(—)-deacetoxyalcyonin acetate. In 1996, Dave moved to a postdoctoral position with Professor Dave Evans at Harvard University where his studies centered on enantioselective catalysis. Dave began his independent career at University of California, Berkeley in July of 1998 before moving to the California Institute of Technology in June of 2000. In 2003, Dave became a full professor of chemistry at Caltech. Professor MacMillan's research program is centered on chemical synthesis with specific interests in new reaction development, enantioselective catalysis and the rapid construction of molecular complexity.
Dave is a recipient of the Elias J. Corey Award for Outstanding Original Contribution in Organic Synthesis by a Young Investigator (2005), Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2003), a Sloan Fellowship (2002), the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Organic Synthesis (2002), the Pfizer Award for Excellence in Synthesis (2002), the Eli-Lilly Grantee Award (2001), Glaxo Smithkiline Chemistry Scholar Award (2001), the Eli-Lilly New Investigator Award (2001), Astra-Zeneca Excellence in Chemistry Award (2001), a Cottrell Scholar Award (2001), a Woodward Scholarship Award from Harvard University (2001) and the Boehringer-Ingelheim New Investigator Award (1999).
Dave is currently a member of the Tetrahedron and Tetrahedron Letters editorial advisory board and he is currently a scientific consultant with Merck (worldwide), Amgen (worldwide), Abbott Research Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals, Bayer Pharmaceuticals and Gilead Research Laboratories.