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Jackie Wright

Jackie Wright is a senior scientist at ESR working across both the health and environment groups as a subject matter expert in microorganisms associated with zoonoses and enteric disease.


Jackie earned her MSc in Microbiology at Massey University, Palmerston North.


Jackie's first collaboration with Public Health staff was in 1990, publishing a joint study reviewing Giardiasis in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. This led to a one year study of gastroenteritis in the same region (Wright JM. Gastrointestinal infection in a New Zealand Community: a one year study. Massey University 1996. (Thesis)). The aim was to look for a wide range of pathogens in all samples using a number of methods to determine true prevalence. As a result, she isolated the first reported New Zealand case of shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) O157 and found that some pathogens were more common than had been previously thought - contributing to the 1996 update of the New Zealand schedule of notifiable diseases. Jackie then joined ESR where she collaborated with peers both internally and externally on Campylobacter, Salmonella VTEC and Yersiniae. A lifestyle change in the late 1990s saw Jackie move away from patient focussed work to enteric pathogen detection work in the commercial food sector before moving back to human diagnostic microbiology and quality. Jackie then undertook a 12 year stint multitasking in a small community laboratory where she found time to investigate non-enteric issues such as the Haematology of Hepatitis A and iron deficiency in toddlers caused by a diet of predominantly cows’ milk. On returning to ESR in 2017 to again lead the Enteric Reference team through to November 2022 during which time she led the transition of our enteric bacteria typing services to whole genome sequencing based methods. Jackie also has an extensive background in laboratory quality and is focussed on ensuring that information gained from testing is both accurate and fit for purpose, as well as being reported in an easily interpreted format. Outside of her work at ESR, Jackie takes a keen interest in water – having served three years on the Ashburton Water Zone Committee and nine years as the custodian of a small community drinking water supply. In 2023 she attended the 11th INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM on Shiga Toxin (Verocytotoxin) Producing Escherichia coli Infections in Banff, Canada as an invited speaker where she presented: Clinical STEC in Aotearoa New Zealand, a significant endemic communicable disease: Current knowledge and future focus. Jackie’s very broad work experience throughout primary, secondary and tertiary human health laboratories has provided research opportunities in both the personal and public health impacts of various diseases. Throughout her professional life she has collaborated with other health professionals to collectively extend our knowledge on organism pathogenicity and disease risk factors thereby identifying interventions which will limit the spread of the disease and improve public health.