African-American Pioneers in Science

Jane Cooke Wright (1919 - 2013)

Jane Cooke Wright Photo
Wikimedia Commons



New York, New York


Smith College
M.D. New York Medical College

  • Jane Cooke Wright
  • African-American pioneer in cancer research and chemotherapy
  • Led effort in discovering several chemotherapeutic drugs
  • First woman president of New York Cancer Society

Oncologist Jane Cooke Wright was born on November 30, 1919 in New York City. Her father was Dr. Louis T. Wright, one of the first African-American graduates from Harvard Medical School. Her mother, Corinne Cooke, was a public school teacher. Dr. Wright attended New York Medical College and graduated with honors in 1945.
She completed her residency at Bellevue Hospital and Harlem Hospital (1945 - 1948).

In 1952, Dr. Wright became director of the Cancer Research Foundation at Harlem Hospital - a position that had been held by her father. In 1955 she became an associate professor and Director of Cancer Research at New York University Medical Center. Dr. Wright's pioneering research work focused on investigating the effects of various drugs on cancerous tumors.
Her work advanced the science of chemotherapy - especially in the treatment of breast and skin cancer. Over her career, Dr. Wright published over 75 papers on cancer chemotherapy.