Black History Month: Celebrating Those Who Came Before Us

  • Henrietta Lacks (1920 - 1951) 

    Henrietta Lacks

    Henrietta Lacks, age 31, was diagnosed with cervical cancer at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951.  A sample of her cancer cells were taken without her consent by a researcher.  Although Mrs. Lack passed away that same year, her cells had the unique ability to survive and reproduce, doubling every 20-24 hours.  The researcher shared the cells, known as HeLa, with other scientists, and they became widely used in biological research and have been involved in many advances in medicine.  “They have been used to test the effect of radiation and poisons, to study the human genome, to learn more about how viruses work, and played a crucial role in the development of the polio vaccine,” Johns Hopkins said. 

    The book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot was made into an HBO movie in 2017, starred in and executive produced by Oprah Winfrey.

  • February 6, 2021

  • Source:  O The Oprah Magazine, January 2021, The Johns Hopkins Medicine, Encyclopedia Britannica