In Memoriam: Jane Cooke Wright, 1919-2013

JaneCookeWrightJane Cooke Wright, a pioneer in the use of chemotherapy to treat cancer and a leading medical educator, died late last month at her home in Gutttenberg, New Jersey. She was 93 years old.

Dr. Wright was born into a prosperous Black family in New York. Her father was one of the early Black graduates of Harvard Medical School and was the first Black physician appointed to a staff position at a New York City public hospital.

Jane Cooke Wright was a graduate of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and the New York Medical College. After a residency at Bellevue Hospital, she joined her father at Harlem Hospital where he was the director of the Cancer Research Foundation, and conducted research on drugs to combat cancer. Upon her father’s death, she succeeded him as head of the foundation.

In 1955, Dr. Wright was appointed associate professor of surgical research at New York University Medical Center. There she was part of a team that developed a nonsurgical system to deliver cancer-fighting drugs to hard to reach organs. In 1964 she one of the founders of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. When she was named professor of surgery and chair of the cancer chemotherapy department at New York Medical College in 1967, she was the highest-ranked African American woman at any predominantly white U.S. medical school.

Dr. Wright retired in 1987.


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