MacMillan illuminates the micro-environment, creating a new path to cancer drugs

The Department of Chemistry’s MacMillan Group developed a new technology called µMap that uses a photocatalyst — a molecule that, when activated by light, spurs a chemical reaction — to identify spatial relationships on cell surfaces. The catalyst generates a marker that tags proteins and their molecular neighbors, which in turn enables the precise mapping of their micro-environment. The technology could impact proteomics, genomics and neuroscience, to name a few of the more obvious fields. But the applications for fundamental biology are so wide-ranging that Princeton’s David MacMillan is hungry to get the technology “into everyone’s hands” to see what scientists in other fields can come up with.