A career in obstetrics and gynecology did not particularly resonate with Jason Wright, M.D. ’99, as he was starting his clinical clerkships at the UMKC School of Medicine. Then he got to his Ob/Gyn rotation.
“It was a complete surprise to me. I really enjoyed that rotation,” Wright said.
So much that Wright has forged a career as an internationally recognized expert in gynecologic cancers while becoming chief of gynecologic oncology at Columbia University. His work has earned him the 2016 E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award.
Wright will receive the award and present the annual Take Wing lecture at noon on May 23 at the School of Medicine.
In 2009, just three years after joining the Columbia faculty, Wright was named the Levin Family Assistant Professor in Women’s Health, becoming one of the youngest physicians to ever receive an endowed professorship at the school. Five years later, he became the Sol Goldman Associate Professor and assumed the section chief’s role.
“This is definitely my passion now,” Wright said. “I’m also a clinician, so my passion is caring for my patients. I developed early on an interest in research and that wove through my residency and fellowship and wound up with me doing the type of research I’m doing now. It wasn’t a straight-forward, straight-line route, but you can trace it back to my days at UMKC.”
Wright followed medical school with a residency in obstetrics and gynecology and a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
He joined the faculty at Columbia University in 2006 and has served as chief of gynecologic oncology and director of the joint gynecologic oncology fellowship at Columbia and Cornell universities since 2014.
Wright says his interest in research began at UMKC. He now is the author of more than 170 peer-reviewed publications and more than 115 abstracts, with articles published in leading medical journals including JAMA and Lancet.
His work has focused on innovations in technology and the quality of care in oncology. For the past 10 years, he has studied individualized patient care by exploring large data sources to look at treatment outcomes and ways to tailor care for particular patients.
“We’ve been able to challenge some things that are dogma in medicine and the traditional ways of treating patients,” Wright said. “We have been able to shed light on some ways to improve outcomes in women’s health.”
Wright credits his time as a student at UMKC for laying the groundwork for his current success.
“One of the benefits of the UMKC School of Medicine is the tremendous clinical basics you get and you can build on that,” he said. “That foundation was key for me. And, I had great mentors.”