Questions about the 2012 Henrietta Lacks Memorial Lecture?

Who should attend the lecture?
The event is free and open to the public. However, advance registration is required. The topic is relevant to anyone interested in biomedical research and research ethics, including research participants and members of the lay community, as well as Johns Hopkins students, faculty, staff, and their families. Primarily recommended for ages 14 and up. Space is limited, so please register as soon as possible to secure a seat.

What is the location and event time?
The event will be held in the Turner Complex Auditorium on the Johns Hopkins medical campus. Turner is located on the corner of Rutland Avenue and Monument Street at 720 Rutland Avenue in Baltimore. Continental breakfast and check-in will begin at 9:00 am, with the program beginning at 10:00 am. Lunch will be served around 12:30 pm.

Where do I park?
Complimentary parking is available in Washington Street Garage, which is located at the intersection of Washington and Monument Streets. For those with state issued handicapped placards, complimentary parking is available at the Rutland Street Garage located at 1800 Madison Street. Please indicate on your registration form that you will need handicapped parking and be sure to bring your state issued handicapped parking placard the day of the event to show to the parking attendant. Volunteers will be on hand at both garages to direct you to Turner Auditorium.

What if I have a disability?
Sign language interpreters will be present at the event. Wheelchair assistance and seating will be available for those who indicate a need on the registration form. For those with handicapped placards, complimentary parking is available at the Rutland Street Garage located at 1800 Madison Street. Please indicate this on the registration form and bring your handicapped placard the day of the event to show to the parking attendant.

Who is Henrietta Lacks, and why are her cells important?
Henrietta Lacks was an African-American woman who underwent treatment for an aggressive form of cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951. In addition to providing her with medical care, Henrietta’s doctor at Hopkins removed some of her cancerous cells to use in research without her explicit consent. (At the time, it was common practice for physicians to obtain tissue samples from patients without their consent–regardless of race or ethnic origin.)

Despite receiving a high standard of medical treatment, Mrs. Lacks ultimately succumbed to this very aggressive form of cancer at the young age of 31. Researchers around the world had been trying to identify or develop a standardized human cell line that could be reproduced in a laboratory setting. They knew that this kind of cell line would provide numerous opportunities to improve the human condition by allowing them to better understand, treat, and prevent a wide range of diseases. Remarkably, Henrietta’s cell line, named “HeLa” after the first two letters of her first and last names, was the first cell line that could be consistently reproduced in a laboratory setting.

Because of their unique ability to reproduce indefinitely, HeLa cells have been instrumental in the development of the polio vaccine, cancer treatment protocols, AIDS research, and much more, and they continue to play an important role in improving the quality of life of people worldwide.

Who is David Ewing Duncan?
David Ewing Duncan, best selling author of eight books, is an award winning science journalist dedicated to exploring leading-edge science and technology, and its consequences in the present and in the future. He is a prolific writer, editor, commentator and television correspondent for NPR, ABC Nightline, NOVA, National Geographic, Wired, and many others. He is famous for translating cutting-edge science and technology into provocative, accessible and entertaining content.

At the podium, Duncan explores his passion for what comes next after new technologies appear – what happens in business, politics, science, philosophy, the media, the arts and to society as a whole. In his presentation, he discusses the most important and controversial topics of today’s scientific research, from stem cells and synthetic biology, to rising drug prices and reforming the FDA. Duncan also focuses on perhaps science’s most significant story: a species’ potential to self-evolve.

In an unprecedented display of his passion for science and how it impacts people and the environment, Duncan agreed to be the first ever human tested for virtually all high-tech tests available — genetic, environmental, neural, and body.

In 2008, he founded the Center for Life Science Policy at UC Berkeley to focus on studies and initiatives on topics ranging from personalized medicine to extending human lifespan; the politics of stem cells; and the integration of environmental studies with human bioscience.

His mission, as perhaps the most tested healthy person in history, is to discover what the most advanced medical technology can tell him, and us, about our future health; the effects of living in a toxin-soaked world; and how genes, proteins, personal behavior, and an often-hostile environment interact within our bodies. It’s the ultimate exam intended to explain and assess how personalized medicine could revolutionize the health care industry.

Duncan regularly contributes to National Geographic, Fortune, Wired, The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Smithsonian and many other publications. He has won numerous awards including the Magazine Story of the Year from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He works at the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto, and lives in San Francisco.

Click here to view David Ewing Duncan’s complete bio.

Will David Ewing Duncan sign books at this event?
Yes, he will sign copies of Experimental Man: What One Man’s Body Reveals about His Future, Your Health, and Our Toxic World and Masterminds: Genius, DNA, and the Quest to Rewrite Life. Both books will be available for purchase at the event.

Arrangements for the appearance of David Ewing Duncan made through Greater Talent Network, Inc., New York, NY.