In 1808, Bright began his higher learning at the University of Edinburgh, where he started with philosophy, economics, and mathematics. The following year, Bright switched to medicine. In 1810, Bright accompanied Sir George Mackenzie on an summer expedition to Iceland where he conducted naturalist studies. In the fall, Bright continued his medical studies at Guy's Hospital in London. After two years at the hospital, he returned to Edinburgh where he was granted his medical doctorate in September 1813 after completing his disseration De erysipelate contagioso.
In the 1820s and 1830s, Bright worked at Guy's Hospital in London, where he taught and practiced medicine. He also did research into the causes and symptoms of kidney disease. His work lead to the naming of one form of kidney disease called Bright's disease.