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.
To be named high-school valedictorian is an honor for any family. For the Georges, that distinction came in the form of fraternal twins, Malik and Miles, who are now heading to their dream school together: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The 18-year-old brothers from New Jersey delivered a rousing and light-hearted speech at their Woodbridge High School graduation ceremony on Thursday, capping off years of academic excellence and hard work. The twins took turns giving their combined oratory address to their nearly 400 classmates, each one putting a spotlight on subjects dear to them like climate change and having support groups.
“It was an amazing experience,” Malik said. “To have all four years to culminate that moment is an enriching experience.”
The graduates, who earned near perfect SAT scores and didn’t have a grade lower than an A-minus in high school, now head to M.I.T., the school they’ve been laser-focused on since freshman year at Woodbridge High. So much so, the George brothers applied early –– and found out they got in weeks before their birthday in December.
“It was our dream school,” Miles said. ” We were looking at top ten schools and we fell in love with everything it had to offer.”
In addition to MIT, the brothers were also accepted into Harvard and Johns Hopkins University. They attribute much of their achievements to their parents, who recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.
“From a very young age, our parents have been active in our education,” Malik said. “If we ever did get a B, they never forced us to do anything, they just wanted us to do our best.”
Away from their parents, now the brothers have each other to look out for once they head to college. Malik is 11 minutes older, but Miles is two inches taller.
“We’re each other’s big brother in a way,” Malik said.
Darryl Chamberlain was determined to create a youth orchestra come hell or high water. In these uncertain times, where public school budget cuts are impacting African American students perhaps more than ever before, Chamberlain, a history teacher in Kansas City, Missouri, began thinking out of the box.
Chamberlain wants to change young lives through music but he had limited resources. So with the money he received playing piano in local churches, Chamberlain bought 70 used instruments, some from pawn shops, and cleaned them up for the students in his class.The result: The A-Flat Orchestra.
“The A-Flat Orchestra doesn’t have a funding arm behind it,” Chamberlain said, “just wit and ingenuity,” Chamberlain told The Kansas City Star. “And with a little ingenuity you can do anything.”
Chamberlain is delivering on a random act of kindness – a much-needed effort during a time when activities like music could be sacrificed in public schools across the country. “I’m doing more than teaching music,” Chamberlain, 59, told The Star. “I draw parallels to life situations and help them to understand how music connects to everyday life.”
He has assembled an orchestra of about 15 students so far but Chamberlain’s goal is to have a much larger symphony. He accepts all students regardless of their musical abilities. Chamberlain is shaping young lives every day and recent studies suggest that Chamberlain’s interaction with black students is critical.
Here is how Johns Hopkins University explains it: In a new study, low-income Black students who have at least one Black teacher in elementary school are significantly more likely to graduate high school and consider attending college, according to a study co-authored by a Johns Hopkins University economist. Having at least one Black teacher in third through fifth grades reduced a Black student’s probability of dropping out of school by 29 percent, the study found. For very low-income Black boys, the results are even greater – their chance of dropping out fell 39 percent.
Previous research has shown there are short-term benefits to pairing students with teachers of the same race, but this study, a new working paper published by the Institute of Labor Economics, demonstrates the positive impacts of having just one of these teachers can continue over many years. “Black students matched to black teachers have been shown to have higher test scores but we wanted to know if these student-teacher racial matches had longer-lasting benefits. We found the answer is a resounding yes,” co-author Nicolas Papageorge of Johns Hopkins said in a statement.
“We’re seeing spending just one year with a teacher of the same race can move the dial on one of the most frustratingly persistent gaps in educational attainment — that of low-income black boys. It not only moves the dial, it moves the dial in a powerful way.”Chamberlain is certainly moving the dial in Kansas City. “Music students have the lowest rate of teenage pregnancy, lower rates of violent crime,” Chamberlain told The Star. “
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of widely-acclaimed novels “Americanah” and “Half of a Yellow Sun”, , has recently been named as one the distinguished achievers to be awarded honorary degrees, this year, by the Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, United States. The honorary degrees will be conferred at the university’s commencement ceremony on the 18th of May, 2016.
Adichie will be awarded alongside seven other recognized individuals, visionaries who have made a mark in various fields. They include groundbreaking filmmaker Spike Lee, the founding director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, Laurie Zabin, Nobel Prize winner, Richard Axel, amongst others.
Ronald J. Daniels, President of the Johns Hopkins University, describes the group as people who have challenged the status quo and changed the world for the better. They have made a lasting impact on the arts, public health, the law, neuroscience and the resilience of communities here in Baltimore and across the globe.”
This is a very well deserved honor for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. As one of the world’s leading feminists and an insightful cultural critic, she has become quite influential on the global stage over the years, continually gaining recognition. The author who earned a Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins’ Writing Seminars in 2003, is no stranger to awards and has amassed quite a number already. Her novel, Americanah, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 2013. In 2008, she won a MacArthur Foundation genius grant.
All eight Ivy League schools — Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown, University of Pennsylvania — have offered Long Island, New York high school senior Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna places in their freshman class.
In addition to the Ivies, she was accepted by Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
“I am elated, but most importantly, I am thankful,” Augusta, 17, told school officials at Sewanhaka Central High School District.
Augusta’s older brother Johnson told NBC News that Augusta’s “initiative and perseverance,” as well as the family’s emphasis on learning, were responsible for his sister’s success. And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as both their Nigerian-born parents are college-educated, and her father has a master’s and doctorate from the University of Indianapolis.
“Education is very paramount in our family,” said her brother, who also made his way to the Ivies. He is a freshman at Cornell University, studying biological engineering.
Tobias and Basillia Nna immigrated to the United States in 1994 and settled first in Indiana then New York City. They moved to Elmont in 2000. Their father has worked for various companies as a physical therapist. All four of their children were born in this country. “Augusta’s school days start from 7 in the morning until around 8 at night,” said Uwamanzu-Nna. “Not to mention all of the homework assignments, scholarship and other miscellaneous things she gets done.”
He said that while his sister was co-founder of her own tutoring service, she also works at another tutoring center on Saturdays.
“I am humbled by all of the college acceptance letters that I recently received,” Augusta says on her high school website. “I am reminded that I have a responsibility to be a role model for others and use my experiences to encourage and inspire others, especially young women.”
Over the past six decades, huge medical advances have sprung from the cells of Henrietta Lacks, a poor, African-American mother of five who died in 1951 of cervical cancer. But Lacks never agreed that the cells from a biopsy before her death taken could be used for research. For years, her own family had no idea that her cells were still alive in petri dishes in scientists’ labs.
They eventually learned they had fueled a line called HeLa cells, which have generated billions of dollars, but they didn’t realize until this spring that her genome had been sequenced and made public for anyone to see.
On Tuesday, the National Institute of Health announced it was, at long last, making good with Lacks’ family. Under a new agreement, Lack’s genome data will be accessible only to those who apply for and are granted permission. And two representatives of the Lacks family will serve on the NIH group responsible for reviewing biomedical researchers’ applications for controlled access to HeLa cells. Additionally, any researcher who uses that data will be asked to include an acknowledgement to the Lacks family in their publications.
The new understanding between the NIH and the Lacks family does not include any financial compensation for the family. The Lacks family hasn’t, and won’t, see a dime of the profits that came from the findings generated by HeLa cells. But this is a moral and ethical victory for a family long excluded from any acknowledgment and involvement in genetic research their matriarch made possible.
It took more than 60 years, but ethics has finally caught up to a particularly fast-moving area of science: taking tissue samples for genetic research. Thanks to the efforts of a dogged journalist, some very thoughtful science leaders in Europe and the U.S., and an ordinary family willing to learn about a complex subject and then to do the right thing to help you and me and our descendants, a long-standing wrong has now been fixed.
Johns Hopkins University recently received a five-year, $7.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation to boost STEM education programs in the predominantly Black public school system in Baltimore. The program, called STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools — or SABES for short — will benefit more than 1,600 students in grades three through five in nine city elementary schools and could eventually become a national model for STEM education programs. More details provided in the video below: