Jane Cooke Wright
Born in New York City, Jane's father was one of the first African-Americans to graduate from Harvard Medical School. Following in her father's footsteps, Jane attended Smith College where she studied medicine. She then went full ride to New York Medical School to receive her M.D.
Her father established the Cancer Research Center at Harlem Hospital, which she took over when he passed away. There Jane worked on chemotherapy research and performed many patient trials. At the time, many physicians disregarded chemotherapy for being ineffective. However, in her research, she found success in few of her trials as several patients had some remission.
Jane became director of cancer research at New York University Medical Center where she continued her research on different tissue cultures. She tested the effects of using multiple drugs to reduce tumors and developed treatment guidelines that minimize side effects while maximizing tumor reduction. As a leader in chemotherapy research, she was invited to serve on President Lyndon B. Johnson's Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke, where they developed a national network of treatment centers. This provided an organizational structure that connected millions of Americans to the treatment they need.
After her work for the government, she became the associate dean for New York Medical College, her alma mater. There she led the cancer research lab until her retirement. Wright also became the first woman president of the New York Cancer Society and led a group of medical professionals to China, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union with People to People.
Jane's many contributions to cancer research have led some to call her "the Mother of Chemotherapy." At a time when there were few African-American women in medicine, she rose to the top and had great success.