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Contact: Diana Kenney, (508) 289-7139, dkenney@mbl.edu

“Listening to Life Through the Microscope”: Symposium to Celebrate Shinya Inoué of the MBL


Shinya Inoue

Shinya Inoué teaching in the MBL Physiology course. Photo by Dyche Mullins. Full size image.


The Shinya-Scope, Inoué’s polarized light microscope. Photo by Diana Kenney. Full size image.

WOODS HOLE, MA—The life, contributions to science, and 90th birthday of pioneering biologist and microscopist Shinya Inoué will be celebrated at a July 14 symposium in Lillie Auditorium, 7 MBL Street, Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole. The symposium, which runs from 9 AM to 12:30 PM, is free and open to the public.

Inoué, who holds the honored title of MBL Distinguished Scientist, has been affiliated with the MBL since 1949, originally as a graduate student and since 1980 as a member of the scientific research staff. Inoué contributed landmark observations and concepts about cell division during this time, based on his refinement of a unique tool (the polarized light microscope) to allow precise observations of living cells.

“Shinya Inoué inspires us through his dedication to excellence and his drive toward independent thinking,” says Rudolf Oldenbourg, a senior scientist at the MBL and longtime collaborator of Inoue’s. “An example of Shinya’s independent thinking was his early insight into the dynamic nature of [the cell’s] spindle fibers and their role in cell division. Against the objections of many of his colleagues, Shinya pursued this idea through a series of beautiful, biophysical inquiries directly in living cells, and in the end he prevailed.”

Another outstanding contribution was Inoué’s co-invention of video microscopy in the early 1980s, which ushered in the era of electronic and, later, digital imaging of live cells.

Inoué will present a tribute at the symposium to Jean and Katsuma Dan, Japanese biologists who were his close friends and professional mentors. Other speakers at the symposium include:
  • Rudolf Oldenbourg, MBL
  • Gary Borisy, president and director, MBL
  • Ted Salmon, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Jennifer Zallen, Memorial-Sloan Kettering Center
  • David McClay, Duke University
  • Tim Mitchison, Harvard Medical School

Inoué is the recipient of several awards and honors, including The Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon Award from the Government of Japan (2010); the International Prize for Biology from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (2003); membership in the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Microscopy Society of America (1995); and the E.B. Wilson Award from the American Society for Cell Biology (1992).


The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. Founded in 1888 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, the MBL is an independent, nonprofit corporation.