Stephen H. Wright, PhD, professor in the Department of Physiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, is the recipient of this year's Faculty Science Forum Founders Day Award. Dr. Wright also is a professor in the UA Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics.
The Founders Day lectureship was established in 1979 to recognize and honor College of Medicine faculty for their scientific accomplishments. Each year, faculty members select one of their peers to provide a presentation to commemorate the founding of the College of Medicine. The College was dedicated on Nov. 17, 1967.
The recipient of this award is a faculty member who embodies a model of an investigator whose research work has a continuous thread of significance and who can effectively present that research with enthusiasm, vigor and inspiration.
Dr. Wright's presentation, titled "There and Back Again," will be held Monday, Nov. 16, noon to 1 p.m., in DuVal Auditorium, University Medical Center, 1501 N. Campbell Ave., Tucson. A reception immediately follows in the DuVal Auditorium foyer.
Dr. Wright's research focuses on the kidney. "The body is routinely subjected to a form of 'chemical warfare' -- the foods we eat and the medicines we ingest contain compounds that are, to one extent or another, toxic. It is virtually impossible to avoid such exposure, but the body has a strategy to deal with it: the kidney, which efficiently clears these compounds from the body," notes Dr. Wright, whose research is aimed at determining the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which the kidney transports these compounds.
Dr. Wright holds baccalaureate and Master's degrees in zoology from the University of California, Davis, and a doctorate in marine biology and comparative physiology from the University of California at Irvine. After a postdoctoral position at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine, he joined the Department of Physiology at the UA College of Medicine.
Dr. Wright's background as a marine biologist studying how marine animals accumulate dissolved nutrients directly from seawater transitioned well to studies of how cells move molecules across membranes. His background also suits his current emphasis on understanding the molecular strategies that permit selected transport proteins in the kidney to efficiently excrete a diverse array of compounds foreign to the body.
For the past 25 years, Dr. Wright has maintained continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including the three NIH-supported research projects currently ongoing in his lab, "due to the exceptionally productive group of students and staff I've had in my lab, the supportive environment that the Department of Physiology provides and the uniquely collaborative environment of the University of Arizona," he notes. "I also have had the good fortune to play a part in successful teaching programs that involve our medical students, physiology graduate students and our rapidly growing undergraduate major in physiology. I could not ask for a more fulfilling set of professional opportunities in teaching and research."