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Duke Establishes Fellowships to Honor Jo Rae Wright

Duke Establishes Fellowships to Honor Jo Rae Wright

Awards will recognize women researchers who follow path of former graduate school dean

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Durham, NC - Duke University has established two fellowships to honor Jo Rae Wright, who stepped down in October after serving more than five years as dean of the university's graduate school.

The Jo Rae Wright Fellowship for Outstanding Women in Science will annually recognize one Ph.D. student in the biomedical sciences and one in the natural sciences whose research shows particular creativity and promise. The graduate school will select the recipients, beginning with the next academic year.

"We hope these awards will encourage women to pursue research careers in fields that show promise for translational applications," said Provost Peter Lange. "It's an appropriate way for us to honor our wonderful friend and colleague, whose own research shed light on cellular systems in the human lung and whose work as dean enhanced the lives of so many students and enabled so much research throughout the university."

Wright, a professor of cell biology, medicine and pediatrics, has published extensive research showing how pulmonary epithelial and immune cells prevent infection and inflammation and promote normal breathing within the lung. Previously the vice dean of basic science at Duke's medical school, she cited her continuing battle with breast cancer in her decision to step down from the graduate school. David Bell, who was the school's senior associate dean, is serving as interim dean while the university conducts a search for Wright's successor.

Sally Kornbluth, who succeeded Wright in the medical school position, said, "Jo Rae is an inspiration to people across the university, but most especially to women who have served with her on the faculty and worked alongside her in the lab."

Dr. Nancy Andrews, the medical school's dean, called Wright "a role model and mentor for people across the university, providing a powerful example for both women and men of how to be productive at the highest levels of science while enriching your community and enhancing the lives of those around you."

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