Gift to UofL Continues Life’s Work
Before psychiatry was recognized as a research-based science, Jesse Wright, M.D., Ph.D., realized the field had the potential for tremendous improvement. “A psychiatry rotation while I was in medical school showed me the deep emotional pain of the patients,” he recalls. “It has been a joy to be able to work with patients and to offer help.”
Drawn to UofL in 1975 by the opportunity to participate in a National Institutes of Mental Health research grant to train aspiring psychiatrists in research, Jesse completed his Ph.D. in 1986. Within a few years, he became the founding director of the University’s Depression Center. As pandemic-related anxiety has increased, and as isolation has fueled depression, Jesse estimates that the Center, working in conjunction with other UofL programs, has over 50,000 visits per year.
Jesse’s research focuses on computer-assisted therapy for which he has received numerous National Institutes of Health grants to develop custom software that tests the effectiveness of this novel treatment approach. He is the principal author of eight medical books, including a trilogy of “hybrid” books that are used around the world. These books integrate text and video to teach readers the key methods of cognitive-behavior therapy, a problem-oriented therapy focusing on reversing negative or dysfunctional patterns of thinking and behaving.
Having reached a point in his career where he wants to ensure the continuation of mood-disorder research, Jesse realized the acute need for researchers to be better positioned for external grant-seeking “in the classically underfunded field of psychiatry.” In response, he created the Dr. Jesse H. Wright Research Scholarship Fund, which accepts proposals from UofL faculty, residents and students. To ensure the fund’s continued growth, Jesse recently added a specific bequest in his estate plan.
“This is a straightforward, meaningful way to show my appreciation for the support UofL has given me throughout my career,” he notes. “In addition, it’s my hope that others will join me supporting the UofL Depression Center, which helps individuals overcome mood and anxiety disorders and seeks to develop more effective treatments.”
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