Reporter 414, 9 February 1998


Verna Wright

Professor Verna Wright died on 31st January 1998 aged 69.

He was Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Leeds since 1970 until his retirement in September 1994.

The history of rheumatology and rheumatological research in Leeds is almost entirely the history of its development by one man, Professor Verna Wright, who was the first occupant of the Arthritis and Rheumatism Council Chair awarded in perpetuity in recognition of his contribution to the field of rheumatology.

Verna Wright began his career at the University in 1956 as a research assistant to Professor Hartfall. Thereafter he was appointed Consultant Physician at the Leeds General Infirmary and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Medicine. Specific rheumatological services developed rapidly.

At first, Verna Wright worked virtually alone; by 1971 Rheumatology and Rehabilitation Unit researchers were bursting out of the little house, 44 Clarendon Road, where the RRU began life. Now the Unit, occupying 28, 30 and 36 Clarendon Road and the Clinical Pharmacology Unit at Chapel Allerton Hospital, has some fifty researchers, a high profile and many international connections.

Verna’s creative and visionary approach to treating rheumatological problems led him to extend his group’s research into the fields of bioengineering, rehabilitation, and clinical pharmacology. Each of these activities was nurtured by him until it became a Division in its own right.

Verna directed much of his energies to publishing the research results of his team and this was prodigious; more than 1,000 publications and 1,200 communications from Leeds.

He was a powerful but extremely courteous and kind leader. His style was gracious, he was always accessible, extremely supportive and friendly towards all who approached him. He will always be remembered for these qualities, for his humour and his laughter.

Verna Wright was a committed and active Christian who touched the lives of many folk of this country and abroad. He was married in 1952 to Esther Margaret Brown, to whom he was devoted. They had five sons and four daughters. ‘A great family’.

Professor Anne Chamberlain
Dr Bahaa Seedhom

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