SARANAC LAKE - Charles W. McCutchen of Bethesda, Md., and Lake Placid recently contributed $40,000 in unrestricted funds to the Trudeau Institute through the McCutchen Foundation.
A retired physicist with deep ties to the Adirondacks, McCutchen is a longtime supporter of the institute.
McCutchen has been summering at Lake Placid since he was a child. His grandfather, Charles Walter McCutchen, a partner in the export flour merchant Holt & Co., bought Camp Pinafore from prominent Brooklyn businessman Edward B. Bartlett in 1894, changing the camp's name to Asulykit, a cheerful, if obscure, rendering of Shakespeare's "As You Like It."
The younger Charles McCutchen grew up in Princeton, N.J., and attended the Lawrenceville School, followed by Princeton, Brown and Cambridge universities. McCutchen contributes to several North Country organizations.
He explained that, in 2009, when Trudeau was seeking funding for a confocal microscope, it found him a ready-made target. In 1959, while trying without success to "spin-flip free electrons" at Cambridge, a chain of lucky breaks had led him to realize why the structure of joint cartilage made it slippery. Trying to see holes McCutchen was certain had to be present in cartilage, he built the one and only refractometer microscope. To understand how it operated, he looked into optical theory and, pursuing a distraction, realized that a confocal, scanning, fluorescence microscope, which did not then exist, would provide sharper pictures than ordinary microscopes. His findings were published in 1967. A little more than 40 years later, he chipped in $30,000 toward the institute's purchase of just such an instrument.
The Trudeau Institute is an independent, nonprofit, biomedical research organization whose scientific mission is to make breakthrough discoveries leading to improved human health. It is supported by federal and state grants, plus contributions from individuals, corporations and private foundations.