Jane C. Wright

Clinical and tissue culture responses to chemotherapy

Contributed by: Matthew Wester and students at Franklin Military Academy



Cancer, Cellular biology, Historical figure, Lab, Medicine, Molecular biology, Neurobiology, North America, Woman


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Wright, J. C.; Wright, L. T. 6th ed.; Remissions Caused by Tri-Ethylene Melamine in Certain Neoplastic Diseases; Journal of the National Medical Association: New York, N. Y., 1950; Vol. 42, pp 343–351. link

Wright, Jane C., et al. Investigation of the relation between clinical and tissue-culture response to chemotherapeutic agents on human cancer. New England Journal of Medicine 257.25 (1957): 1207-1211.  link





Slide 1: Researcher’s Background

Dr. Wright was a pioneering cancer researcher who contributed significantly to the treatment method of chemotherapy by testing many anti-cancer medicines, studying tissue culture response to chemotherapy, and developing novel chemotherapy administration methods.

Biography in brief

Dr. Jane C. Wright was born on November 20, 1919, in Manhattan, New York. Dr. Wright earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College before attending medical school at New York Medical College. She is credited with helping to develop the technique of using human tissue culture to test new chemotherapy treatments, and she is known for the development and promotion of chemotherapies as an effective option for the treatment of some cancers. Dr. Wright was also the co-founder of American Society of Clinical Oncology. She was married to David D. Jones, and they had two daughters: Jane Wright Jones and Alison Jones.

Is (or was) their research under-valued because of their identity?

Yes, She achieved success and prestige before the Civil Rights Act became law in 1964 and was the recipient of many honors, awards, and promotions during her career. She’s been quoted as believing she either met very little racial prejudice or failed to notice its effects, although she acknowledges that, as a woman, she had to work “twice as hard” in a male-dominated field. Nevertheless, she clearly broke or defied gender and racial barriers in her professional achievements in the medical and scientific fields. 


Slide 2: Research Overview

Take home message of study

Dr. Wright pioneered the use of tissue cultures in testing the effectiveness of chemotherapy agents – themselves a new form of cancer treatment at the time. She showed that the effectiveness of chemotherapy agents in tissue culture was correlated with their effectiveness in clinical treatments. These results supported tissue cultures as a way to test these agents before going to clinical trial. Jane also used carefully-controlled clinical trials to test and determine effective chemotherapy dosages and administration techniques.

Study system

Chemotherapy administration in tumor tissue cultures compared to responses observed in clinical trials. Figure shows a patient’s cells before (left) and after (right) chemotherapy treatment).


Slide 3: Key Research Points

Main figure

This table compares the results of chemotherapy treatments in two different environments – tissue culture and clinical trials. The grade assigned to a tumor in these environments is given a grade, where grade 2= tumor size decreased; grade 0= tumor size increased; grade 1= inconclusive results. The majority of grade 2 clinical cases also resulted in grade 2 responses in tissue culture, and the majority of grade 0 clinical cases also resulted in grade 0 responses in tissue culture.

Societal Relevance

The method of using tissue cultures to test the effectiveness of chemotherapy agents gives researchers a stepping point before going to a clinical trial with patients. The development of chemotherapies is extremely important as a way to treat cancer beyond more traditional methods of radiation and surgery. Chemotherapy kills cancer cells that make tumors when these other methods may not be effective by themselves, or even possible. Chemotherapy has saved many lives since its development.


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