Henrietta Lacks, Source of Famous HeLa Cells, to be Honored with Building at Johns Hopkins University

Henrietta Lacks (photo via nbcnews.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to the Associated Press, Johns Hopkins University and the family of Henrietta Lacks announced a new building on the school’s campus in East Baltimore will be named after the woman whose cells were taken without her consent and widely used in revolutionary cell research.

News outlets report the building will support programs promoting research and community engagement. Lacks died of cervical cancer in 1951 at the university where researchers soon discovered her cells reproduced indefinitely in test tubes.

For decades, it was not widely known that a black woman who was a patient at Hopkins was the unwitting source of the famous HeLa cells. It was only once Rebecca Skloot’s book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, was published in 2010 that Lacks’ story gained national attention. Oprah Winfrey subsequently produced and starred in a 2016 HBO biopic of Lacks’ life.

The announcement was part of the 9th Annual Henrietta Lacks Memorial Lecture, NBC 4 reports. Lacks’ granddaughter, Jeri Lacks, says the honor befits her grandmother’s role in advancing modern medicine.

Last year, the city of Baltimore designated October 4 as Henrietta Lacks Day to recognize the contributions of the woman behind the HeLa cells.

4 thoughts on “Henrietta Lacks, Source of Famous HeLa Cells, to be Honored with Building at Johns Hopkins University”

  1. I think that’s a START. Her contribution to science is WORLDWIDE and something more should be done in addition to this building. Helping young African American’s get into the STEM or giving scholarships to her family members should be discussed.

  2. I live in Maryland and was unaware of how this Black woman’s body contributed to the advancement of science, especially at Johns Hopkins. It was a totally unintentional and unauthorized contribution, but her family insisted — and the author of the biography, too — that credit should be given where it’s due.

    1. Its about time!! Mrs Henrietta Lacks’s story is very important. Everyone should read the book. My heart goes out to her family. All the injustice. White people suck

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