Questions about the 2013 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?
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 Gary Gibbons, MD?
Gary H. Gibbons, MD, is Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he oversees the third largest institute at the NIH, with an annual budget of more than $3 billion and a staff of 917 federal employees.

The NHLBI provides global leadership for research, training, and education programs to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, and blood diseases and enhance the health of all individuals so that they can live longer and more fulfilling lives.

Prior to being named director of the NHLBI, Gibbons served as a member of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council (NHLBAC) from 2009-2012. He was also a member of the NHLBI Board of Extramural Experts (BEE), a working group of the NHLBAC.

Before joining the NHLBI, Gibbons served as the founding director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute, chairperson of the Department of Physiology, and professor of physiology and medicine at the Morehouse School of Medicine, in Atlanta.

Under his leadership of the Cardiovascular Research Institute, Gibbons directed NIH-funded research in the fields of vascular biology, genomic medicine, and the pathogenesis of vascular diseases. During his tenure, the Cardiovascular Research Institute emerged as a center of excellence, leading the way in discoveries related to the cardiovascular health of minority populations. Gibbons received several patents for innovations derived from his research in the fields of vascular biology and the pathogenesis of vascular diseases.

Gibbons earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in Princeton, N.J., and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School in Boston. He completed his residency and cardiology fellowship at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Prior to joining the Morehouse School of Medicine in 1999, Gibbons was a member of the faculty at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., from 1990-1996, and at Harvard Medical School from 1996-1999.

Throughout his career, Gibbons has received numerous honors, including election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences; selection as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Minority Faculty Development Awardee; selection as a Pew Foundation Biomedical Scholar; and recognition as an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association (AHA).