Passion for Precision: Instrument maker helps cell researchers see the “little picture”

When Dr. Shinya Inoué stands up in front of the emperor of Japan and accepts the International Prize for Biology in Tokyo today, Bob Knudson of Port Townsend knows exactly what Inoué is going to say.

More importantly, Knudson understands what Inoué is talking about.

“He handed me a copy of his acceptance speech three weeks ago in Woods Hole,” Knudson said.

“It was very quiet, very laid back. But I know he’s thrilled — he’s devoted his whole life to research and feels especially honored to get this award from the Japanese.”

Knudson designs custom accessories for optical microscopes, which he sells to universities and pharmaceutical companies around the world.

Before moving to Port Townsend this fall, he worked with Inoué for 30 years, including the past 17 at the Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory in Massachusetts.

“My lab is actually a fancy machine shop,” Knudson said. “I make functional sculpture.”

Inoué, 83, is considered the authority on video microscopy — optical microscopes that have eyepieces, video cameras and monitors.

The award, from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, recognizes Inoué’s discoveries in the study of cell division, which transformed the static view of cells to a dynamic image.

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The rest of the story appears in the Monday Peninsula Daily News.

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