Scientists of Color: Innovators from the Past and Present

July 28, 2020 2 min read

Past:

Image Credit: The New Inquiry

Chemotherapy was once considered to be taboo before Dr. Jane C. Wright pushed to make it a standard of treatment for cancer patients. Wright began her career by working alongside her father, Dr. Louis T. Wright, at the Cancer Research Foundation in Harlem Hospital. Her father was one of the first Black men to graduate from Harvard Medical School, following her father's example of breaking through barriers. When he passed away in 1952, Wright took over as the director of the research center, where her experiments led Wright to successfully provide treatment for human cancer patients. She went on to form the American Society of Clinical Oncology to improve doctor care for cancer patients. She was the only Black woman out of the other seven male physicians on the board. Her successes did not end there as President Lyndon B. Johnson soon after appointed her to his commission.

Dr. Wright’s daughter, Dr. Alison Jones, reflected on her mother’s many accomplishments throughout her life by stating, “She never discussed race being an obstacle to her success. She looked at obstacles as challenges to be overcome and never backed down because something was difficult.” Wright passed away in 2013, but her contributions to the field of oncology continue to live on in the medical community now. 

Present:

Image Credit: Med City News 

At only 27 years old, Ashlyn Sanders is making history in the medical community with her startup NeuroVice. After being diagnosed with Chiari Malformation, a medical condition within the brain, Sanders wanted to create a solution for other patients experiencing frequent seizures. The Protector Against Tongue Injury (PATI) was born out of her ambition. This device prevents patients from biting their tongues, choking, damaging teeth, and developing other oral injuries when seizing. Individuals with conditions like epilepsy will be able to easily insert this device into their mouths when they feel a seizure coming on, preventing oral damage from occurring. Although the device is still in the startup stage, Sanders hopes to make this a new standard for treating brain disorders that cause seizures. 

When asked about advice for other Black, female entrepreneurs Sanders said, “You must have persistence, determination, and fortitude to overcome setbacks and challenges.” As a young, Black woman Ashlyn Sanders has had to work harder than most to turn her dream into a reality. 

We are proud to feature her and Dr. Wright as two key figures who have created breakthroughs for improving patient treatment. 

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