The Verna Wright Prize
The Verna Wright Prize was created by Raffaele Scarpa in 2008, to celebrate the famous English rheumatologist who first developed at University of Leeds an interest in spondarthritis field and particularly in psoriatic arthritis. The first edition of the Verna Wright Prize was held in Procida, a little island of the gulf of Naples, in 2008.
VERNA WRIGHT, MD, FRCP
Verna Wright was born in 1928. Although Devonian by birth, he was reared and schooled in Bedford, and, as a state scholar, qualified in medicine at Liverpool University in 1953, after changing course from veterinary medicine. He first developed an interest in psoriatic arthritis at Stoke Mandeville Hospital under Dr. A.G.S. Hill, and extended this interest after moving to Leeds in 1956. Apart from a year at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, he spent the rest of his career at Leeds. The University appointed him to a personal chair at the relatively early age of 42 in 1970. Verna Wright’s interests in Rheumatology were wide, and though perhaps best known for his work in the spondyloarthritis field, he was also pivotal in advancing knowledge in biomechanics, therapeutics, rehabilitation, communication, and other aspects of rheumatology, such as the importance of allied health professionals. Wright rapidly become an international name in rheumatology, and his internationalism was also reflected in his approach to appointing research colleagues, many of whom he attracted from abroad, notably post-graduated from Italy, Egypt, and Japan, and from many other countries.
Several returned home with Leeds ideas and reached distinction, such as R. Scarpa, who became Professor of Rheumatology in Naples. He was a voracious reader, and a meticulous note taker through his career – his personal journal covering medical meetings over decades ran to several volumes. And he was responsible for ten books on various rheumatological themes, and produced formidable list of scientific papers and chapters. His work was widely recognized by awards, honorary membership of foreign rheumatology societies, and by presidencies of British organizations associated with his specialty, including the Heberden Society. Verna Wright was a devoted follower of his faith and a keen supporter of the interdenominational Christian youth movement, and he found the time to preach an average of 6 sermons a week. With his wife Esther, he was a dedicated family man, and of their 9 children, several entered the professions. He died in 1998 after a long illness borne with great fortitude (written by J.M.H.Moll 2009).