A phenomenal woman of the medical field passed away recently. Dr. Jane C. Wright was responsible for the use of chemotherapy as a viable resort for treating cancer. In 1955, Dr. Wright served as Director of Cancer Research at NYU Medical Center. She discovered a new way to reach cancerous tumors that were once hard to reach. Dr. Wright passed away at her home in Guttenberg, NJ on February 19th from dementia. She was 93 years old.
Born in Manhattan, Ny. in 1919, Wright studied art in school before determining her desire for medicine. After graduating from Ethical Culture Fieldston School, she attended Smith College, then received a full scholarship to New York Medical College.
Dr. Wright came from a long line of doctor pioneers; her father, Dr. Louis T. Wright, was one of the first black graduates of Harvard Medical School and was the first black doctors appointed to a staff position at a municipal hospital in New York City and, in 1929, became the city’s first African American police surgeon. He also established the Cancer Research Center at Harlem Hospital.
Wright’s grandfather was among the first classes of physicians at Meharry Medical College.
It was at the Harlem Hospital that Dr. Jane Wright began her cancer research. She worked alongside her father until his death in 1952. Together, they used new drugs like triethylene melamine to treat cancer, studying the effects of chemotherapy on mice before progressing to humans. Through their extensive work, the Wright doctors brought a few patients to remission. Dr. Wright took over at the Harlem Hospital Cancer Research Foundation after her father passed then joined the NYU Medical Center in 1955.
It was through Dr. Wright’s work that cancer patients were able to be treated in parts of the body that were difficult to reach. Using a catheter system, she was able to deliver heavier doses of anticancer drugs inside the kidneys, spleen and other areas.
In the same year of the Civil Rights Act, Dr. Jane Wright was the only woman founder of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO). Then she was soon appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to the President’s Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke.
A few years later, in 1967, Dr. Wright made history as the highest ranking black woman at a U.S. medical school when she was made the head of the chemotherapy department and associate dean at New York Medical College.