News & Stories
Alden-Wright Foundation, Inc.
April 22, 2022
The Alden-Wright Foundation has been supporting early detection research in head and neck cancers since 2003, when P. T. (Pete) Wright established the Virginia Alden-Wright Fund for Early Detection at Yale New Haven Hospital. Pete’s wife Virginia (Ginny) was diagnosed with a form of throat cancer and was treated by Clarence Sasaki, MD, a world renowned cancer specialist.
In gratitude for the extraordinary care Ginny received and in honor and recognition of his groundbreaking research and unwavering friendship, the new Fund was created to assist Dr. Sasaki in his work in early detection of the disease.
The Foundation’s support for the Fund, including a very generous recent gift, has continued over the years through the direction of the Wright’s children, Wendy, Ann, Steve and Sandy. Dr. Sasaki’s pivotal work is now moving forward under the direction of Benjamin L. Judson, MD, professor of surgery (Otolaryngology); Chief, Division of Otolaryngology, Yale Medicine.
According to the Wright siblings, “The Alden-Wright Foundation is excited to continue its relationship with Yale New Haven Hospital through its contributions to the Virginia Alden Wright Fund for Early Detection. Our family is personally grateful for the exceptional care from YNHH and values the commitment of Dr. Judson and his team to cancer research.” By honoring their mother through their generosity, this vital research will propel new discoveries in early diagnosis and focused treatment of head and neck cancers. These efforts will benefit countless patients for years to come, while preserving the legacies of Dr. Sasaki and of Pete and Ginny Wright.
Dr. Judson’s most recent work focuses on the detection of cells present in saliva that could be markers for head and neck cancers. His team is actively collecting samples from patients and compiling data. Unlike lung cancer, for example, which employs CT scans for early detection, head and neck cancers currently have no screening options and are not detected until they become quite large and later stage, with decreased possibility for successful treatment. Saliva studies may hold the key to early detection, as it involves looking for messenger RNA that would manifest early signs of the disease.
Dr. Judson recently shared, “The Alden-Wright Foundation’s steadfast dedication to early detection in head and neck cancer over the last 20 years has led to foundational discoveries in this field made by Clarence Sasaki in the Yale Larynx Laboratory. Getting to know the Foundation’s board members and seeing their commitment to an informed partnership for this purpose has been a pleasure and inspiration.”