Chemical and Biological Characterization of Microbial Natural Products

The MacMillan lab focuses on the isolation and characterization of natural products from marine-derived bacteria that have promising biological activity. We take advantage of the broad microbial and chemical diversity of marine habitats, and the power of high-content phenotypic screening to discover and characterize novel therapeutic agents. The lab has active programs in marine microbiology, high-throughput screening (with an emphasis on oncology), cell biology, and organic/analytical chemistry. Our approach has led to the discovery of a variety of novel natural products, including discoipyrrole A and mangrolide A.

Research Opportunities

Graduate students interested in research in the chemical and biological investigation can apply to the Graduate Program in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Alternatively, students can apply to the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (PBSE) that reflects the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of biomedical research at UCSC.


Our research program is highly collaborative, working with many groups at UC Santa Cruz, UT Southwestern and others throughout the world. This allows us to use our unique chemical and biological platforms to address areas of biomedical importance.

Many of our collaborations are through the Center for High-throughput Functional Annotation of Natural Products (HIFAN), a collaboration between the MacMillan lab, the Linington lab (Simon Fraser University) and Scott Lokey (UC Santa Cruz). The objective of this center is to use multiple platforms to study the mechanism of action of natural products and botanicals and use metabolomics to deconvolute the chemical complexity of these samples.