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Verna Wright: father of the spondyloarthropathies
  1. Philip S Helliwell
  1. Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Philip S Helliwell, Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds LS7 4SA, UK; p.helliwell{at}leeds.ac.uk

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Verna Wright arrived in Leeds in 1956, having qualified in Liverpool. At that time there were few ‘official’ rheumatologists as care for arthritis was delivered by general physicians or physical medicine specialists. His interest in psoriatic arthritis was kindled by the patients admitted to the regional rheumatic disease hospital in Harrogate—the Royal Bath Hospital. When he went to the USA for a spell (to follow his interest in biomechanics) he asked one of the senior nurses in Harrogate to make a list of all patients admitted with psoriasis and arthritis in his absence. On his return he had his first cohort—it was as simple as that. He was not the first to notice the characteristic features of psoriatic arthritis, there was an early description by Alibert1, and Bauer et al in the USA very carefully described the salient features in an article in 1941.2 However, Verna Wright’s contribution was to make careful clinical and radiographic observations of a large cohort of patients, an advantage of working in a regional centre where patients came from all over the North of England. Together with John Moll, he recognised that other arthritides shared common …

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