Thank you, Ms. Lacks

Dayton Daily News - - IDEAS & VOICES - Ron Rollins Ideas & Voices Ed­i­tor

You’ve prob­a­bly heard of Hen­ri­etta Lacks, from whom cells were taken in the 1950s, and is the sub­ject of a best-sell­ing book, “The Im­mor­tal Life of Hen­ri­etta Lacks.”

“The cells were taken with­out con­sent from Lacks, an African Amer­i­can mother of five, dur­ing a 1951 visit to Johns Hop­kins Hospi­tal in Bal­ti­more, which was racially seg­re­gated at the time. Lawrence Lacks ... said the fam­ily did not know un­til many years af­ter his mother’s death that her cells were liv­ing in test tubes in science labs across the world,” ac­cord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post. “Her ‘im­mor­tal cells’ led to the de­vel­op­ment of the po­lio vac­cine, stud­ies of leukemia and AIDS, chemo­ther­apy . ... ”

Johns Hop­kins is now nam­ing a re­search build­ing in her honor. A long-over­due trib­ute in a case that echoes through medicine, his­tory and the courts. Thoughts? Email me at rrollins@cox­o­

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