Born in London in 1921, Shinya Inoué lived in China; Portland, Oregon; Sydney, Australia; and Japan, before moving to the United States in 1949. Fortunately, in high school he met biologist Katsuma Dan who had spent time at the Marine Biological Laboratory and began a lifelong collaboration of the study of biophysics of living cells.
Inoué built light microscopes that allowed him to image dynamic processes in living cells, which led him to demonstrate the role of what were later named microtubules in the mitotic spindle. This led to a life studying mitosis, cell division, and cell morphogenesis, focused on molecular mechanisms and biophysics.
Named a National Academy of Sciences member in 1993, Inoué spent his summers at the MBL, then became a resident MBL scientist in 1979, and MBL Distinguished Scientist in 1986. He has received additional awards and in 2017 remains a revered member of the MBL community.