Dr. Jane C. Wright descended from a renowned medical family that defied the social and racial barriers in a profession traditionally dominated by white men. Dr. Wright’s father, Dr. Louis T. Wright, was one of the first black graduates of Harvard Medical School, and the first black doctor appointed to the staff of a New York City hospital. Her grandfather graduated from the Meharry Medical College, the first medical school in the South for African-Americans. With a family already successful in the medical field, it is no wonder where her talent stemmed from.
One of the biggest breakthroughs she made was in cancer treatment with the development of chemotherapy in the 1940s. Dr. Wright is credited with inventing a technique that involved using human tissue rather than laboratory mice to test the effects of potential drugs on cancer cells. She played a major role in improving the efficacy of chemotherapy, and impacted the modern day understanding of chemotherapy by helping change its reputation from being a last resort treatment for cancer to the treatment that has the best shot of containing and suppressing tumors. Another notable achievement is that she pioneered the use of methotrexate to treat skin cancer and breast cancer.