Almoth Edward Wright (1861-1947)

was physician and pathologist who, in 1896, was among the discoverers of the typhoid vaccine.

After earning a medical degree from the Belfast Academical Institution in 1883, followed by a period of medical study at the University of Leipzig, Wright pursued medical research at the University of London while also working as an Admiralty Clerk. In 1887, he became a demonstrator of physiology at Cambridge before traveling to Marburg and Strasbourg where he sought additional specialized training in pathological anatomy and physiological chemistry. Between 1889-1891, Wright worked for the University of Sydney, Australia, as a demonstrator of physiology. He returned to England and, in 1892, was appointed to the Army Medical School in Nettley as a professor of pathology where he remained for the next decade.

During the fruitful period at Nettley, Wright not only completed original work on topics related to blood coagulation and bacteriology but also succeeded in developing a vaccine against typhoid fever which was tested on soldiers in India. Thanks to his effort, Britain was the only country that entered World War I with troops largely immunized against this disease. In 1906, he was knighted in recognition of this work.

Between 1902-1918, Wright was professor of pathology at St. Mary’s Hospital, London where he continued research on immunization, spurred on by the presence of remarkable colleagues including Alexander Fleming, Robert Koch, Paul Ehrlich, and Elie Metchnikoff. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1906. During this period he also assisted with pneumonia inoculations in South Africa and with improving wound treatment and disinfection during World War I. In connection with the latter, he organised a research laboratory in Boulogne, France, to produce vaccines for troops fighting in the trenches, work for which he received the Buchanan Medal of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1920.

After the war, Wright -- who was known for holding, and promoting, controversial viewpoints -- drew the ire of George Bernard Shaw for expressing anti-feminist views. Shaw's play, The Doctor’s Dilemma, arose from their ideological collision, and the play’s leading character, Sir Colenso Ridgeon, is said to have been inspired by Wright.

Bibliography

Parker, Franklin. "Almoth Edward Wright" Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, vol. 14, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2008. 511-513.


Last modified 27 January 2017