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Campus Life

David Lacks Talk

Henrietta Lacks, for decades known only as HeLa in medical and research circles, was a poor African-American mother of 5 who died of cervical cancer in 1951. Her cancerous cells were harvested without her knowledge by a doctor at Johns Hopkins and live on to this day as immortal HeLa cells. HeLa cell lines were instrumental in developing a cure for polio, cancer and AIDs treatments, gene mapping, aging and infertility research, as well as a boon of other scientific discoveries and medical breakthroughs. Her case was important in the development of human research ethics in the U.S. but still little was known about the woman behind the cells or her family until this book was released last year.