KGI’s Science Heritage Center (SHC) celebrates the great 20th Century inventors like Arnold Beckman and Wallace Coulter, who revolutionized the bioscience and diagnostic industries for generations to come. The pioneering analytical instruments they developed made it faster and easier for scientists to conduct chemical investigations and, since techniques and measurements were standardized, results could be readily compared and verified.

Open to the public, the exhibit consists of more than 50 instruments spanning multiple generations, allowing visitors to trace the technical developments that made each model better than the one that preceded it. Visitors can see how various inventions developed for government and industry lead to breakthroughs in medicine by giving physicians the tools they need to diagnose and manage a variety of diseases and medical conditions.

For example, the Oxygen Analyzer on display dates back to 1943. Invented by Beckman and Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling, it was initially developed to measure the oxygen content of air in submarines. Later, it was used to helped hospital staff accurately monitor oxygen levels in incubators to reduce the risk of blindness among premature infants.

Another important instrument is the first automated blood cell counter, the Coulter Counter Model A. In 1948, Coulter invented a way to count and measure cells using impedance measurements, the Coulter Principle. He introduced the first automated blood cell counter based on it in 1956. Today, a majority of blood cell counters are based on the Coulter Principle, and this Principal has also found wide use in industrial applications requiring particle analysis.

The Science Heritage Center is a good fit for KGI. It reflects the institute’s mission of benefiting society by translating the power and potential of life sciences into practice.

Jim Osborne, PhD, the Robert E. Finnigan professor and director of the Center for Biomarker Research, encourages individuals, high school groups, and undergraduate college students to tour the exhibit in hopes of sparking their interest in translating advances in life science into innovative commercial products. You can also listen to an audio tour of the SHC.