Rudolf Oldenbourg Appointed Director of MBL Cellular Dynamics Program

Contact: Gina Hebert

Credit: Naoki Noda

Credit: Naoki Noda

MBL, Woods Hole, MA—The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) has appointed senior scientist Rudolf Oldenbourg director of its Cellular Dynamics Program (CDP). Established in 2008, the CDP is composed of several independent laboratories, notably those with a specialization in imaging and cell physiology and biochemistry. The program houses the MBL’s microscopy facility and aims to accelerate the knowledge of basic biology and disease through the development and utilization of customized tools that shed light on life’s most essential processes.  Distinguished CDP scientists include Shinya Inoué, a pioneer of polarized light microscopy for live cell imaging, and 2008 Nobel Prize winner Osamu Shimomura.

Oldenbourg joined the MBL in 1989 after serving on the faculty of the Physics Department at Brandeis University.   He was promoted to MBL associate scientist in 1994 and to senior scientist in 2002.  He received his diploma in physics from the Technical University in Munich and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Konstanz, both in Germany.

Oldenbourg has pioneered advances in transmitted light microscopy, including invention of the LC-PolScope, a polarized light microscope enhanced by the use of liquid crystal technology, electronic imaging, and digital image processing.  The LC-PolScope is now widely used in clinical and research laboratories around the world and has found particular relevance in fertility clinics, where it can be used noninvasively to visualize meiotic spindles in human eggs.  Oldenbourg continues to develop new microscopy and image processing techniques, and their applications in cell biology, including groundbreaking work on the cytoskeleton.

Oldenbourg has served as a founding member of the NIH Study Section on Microscopic Imaging and holds a joint appointment in the Physics Department at Brown University, where he teaches courses in biophotonics and optics.  He has also served on MBL’s Science Council and, most recently, has initiated a series of workshops that focus on the future of imaging at the MBL.


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 Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in 1888, the MBL is a private, nonprofit institution and an affiliate of the University of Chicago.