G5 (850L): The black woman who changed cancer treatment
11:38PM Jul 23, 2020
cancer research center
new york city
most common forms
Jane Cooke Wright changed the way we treat cancer. She played a major role in developing chemotherapy. It is one of the most common forms of cancer treatment today. She also faced many challenges during her career as a black female doctor at a time when most doctors were white men.
Background In early medical career
Right was born in 1919 in New York City. Her grandfather was a graduate of the first medical school for African Americans in the south. Her father Louis Wright, was one of the first African American graduates of Harvard Medical School. Louis Wright was the city's first African American police surgeon in 1929. Later, he helped create a Cancer Research Center at Harlem Hospital in New York City. Historically, the hospital was known for training black doctors and nurses. Both Jane cook right and her sister Barbara, right peers became doctors. At the time the number of black female physicians in America numbered in the hundreds. Right graduated from New York Medical College in 1945. Later she joined the Harlem hospital's Cancer Research Center. Her father was director, then her father died in 1952. At that point Wright became head of the Research Center at age 33.
Improving cancer research
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world. It causes uncontrolled growth of cells in the body. Cells are the building blocks of life. Cancer cells can form lumps called tumors. When tumors are too large, or there are too many of them, they can prevent organs from working properly. When Wright started her work, doctors remove tumors through surgery. She pushed to develop new ways to treat cancer. She connected research done on mice and cells to test done on humans. She was the first doctor to use clinical trials to study cancer in humans. Clinical trials or experiments done on a large number of patients. Usually the patients are split into two groups. One group receives the treatment and the other does not. Scientists can then compare the two groups to see how well the treatment works. Today, new treatments or drugs usually have to go through clinical trials. This is done to make sure they work and are safe for the public. Clinical trials are now very common. This shift is largely due to Wright's work.
Delivering drugs to tumors.
Before Wright's work, many tumors were thought to be untreatable. Especially if they were located in parts of the body that were hard for surgeons to reach, right tested and prove that chemotherapy could treat some of these tumors. Chemotherapy is a type of medication used to treat cancer. It kills cancer cells or stops them from growing and spreading to other parts of the body. Right came up with ways to inject chemotherapy drugs into a person's bloodstream. The person's blood could then carry the treatment to the tumors. Wright also worked hard to find the most effective chemotherapy treatments. She also worked to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. In addition, Wright was one of the first to test combinations of chemotherapy drugs. Wright's work continued for 40 years. She helped build guidelines for cancer treatment. Wright retired in 1987 and died in 2013, with many remembering her lasting impact on how we study and treat cancer today.