This past October 9th, microbiology lost an extraordinary member when Andrew Wright died. Those of us fortunate to have interacted with him over the years lost a very good friend. Even on a first meeting it was impossible not to sense his kindness and genuine interest in the conversation, underscored by his gentle smile and an endearing Scottish accent.
Andrew obtained his Ph.D. in 1960 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He did a post-doc in Minnesota (1961−1963) but then moved to the Boston area to stay. Initially, as a post-doc with Phil Robbins at MIT (1963−1967), working on polysaccharides. And then as a faculty member of the then rather new Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at Tufts Medical School in 1967. He remained a member of that Department for the rest of his life, most recently as Professor Emeritus. Over the decades, his research interests covered many areas. He started by building on his postdoctoral work on O-antigen conversion by lysogenic phage, but he then diversified into DNA replication and transcriptional regulation, to mention but two.
Andrew's academic home ("Tufts Micro") and mine ("HMS Micro") always felt like sibling departments to me. This was in large part thanks to Andrew. I met him soon after I arrived in the Boston area in 1983. His scientific interests, our mutual scientific friends, and his welcoming attitude immediately made me feel at home with him. Over the years, I met many members of his lab, several of whom have become life-long friends. Ask any of them how it was to work with Andrew and their response will undoubtedly be infused with a sense of family.
Andrew was not only an accomplished scientist and caring mentor, he also delighted in strenuous sports. Along the years he played rugby (being founder and captain of the Boston Rugby Club), danced (as a member of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society of Boston) and climbed mountains (a sport he took up in his 50s). I learned about his climbing skills in 1992 when I shared with him the news that my son Zico (then 9 years old) was interested in rock climbing. He immediately recommended several places in the Boston area where we could go practice. I was pleasantly surprised to see that someone at his age (he was nearing 60) remained so active. It was only later that I found out that he had climbed Mount Rainier, the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc and even Everest (partway)! Andrew was truly an exemplary human, someone whose approach to living we should all hope to be able to emulate.