Tristen Wright

Portrait of Tristen Wright

Tristen Wright’s passion for biomedical research began during his undergraduate studies when he worked at the Arkansas Biosciences Institute for three years. This passion fueled his desire to attain a higher education. 

Wright earned his bachelor’s degree in biotechnology in 2019 from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.  There, he studied in the lab of Jianfeng (Jay) Xu, PhD, where he worked on engineering the plant cell wall towards improved biomass processability for biofuel production.  He also studied the use of tobacco plant cell cultures for the production of human therapeutic proteins. He earned his master's degree from the St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in May 2021.

Wright currently works in the lab of Joseph Opferman, PhD, Cell and Molecular Biology, where he studies the roles of MCL-1 in mitochondrial physiology and disease.

“It is such a blessing and an honor to be a part of this incredible program,” he says. “The amount of collaboration, expertise and resources available at St. Jude are second to none.”

Hometown: Paragould, Arkansas


Phan NV, Wright T, Rahman MM, Xu J, Coburn JM. In vitro biocompatibility of decellularized cultured plant cell-derived matrices. ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering 6 (2), 822-832, 2020.

Fang H, Wright T, Jinn JR, Guo W, Zhang N, Wang X, Wang YJ, Xu J. Engineering hydroxyproline-O-glycosylated biopolymers to reconstruct the plant cell wall for improved biomass processability. Biotechnol Bioeng 117(4):945-958, 2020.

Zhang N, Wright T, Wang X, Savary BJ, Xu J. Production of thermostable endo-1,5-α-L-arabinanase in Pichia pastoris for enzymatically releasing functional oligosaccharides from sugar beet pulp. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 104(4):1595-1607, 2020.

Zhang N, Wright T, Caraway P, Xu J. Enhanced secretion of human α1-antitrypsin expressed with a novel glycosylation module in tobacco BY-2 cell culture. Bioengineered 10(1):87-97, 2019.

Zhang N, Wright T, Wang X, Karki U, Savary BJ, Xu J. Engineering 'designer' glycomodules for boosting recombinant protein secretion in tobacco hairy root culture and studying hydroxyproline-O-glycosylation process in plants. Plant Biotechnol J 17(6):1130-1141, 2019.