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Henrietta Lacks High School Day

Video by Joshua Franzos

The Johns Hopkins East Baltimore Community Affairs and Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research hosted the first official Henrietta Lacks High School Day in March of 2014.

In our first year, in an effort to supplement classroom learning, we invited 350 Baltimore City high school students to Johns Hopkins in an effort to introduce real-life research initiatives, career paths, and discussions based around HeLa stem cells and biotechnology. We also offered an opportunity for students to further understand bioethics through history and today. We concluded with a panel-style Q&A featuring members of the Lacks family. The video below captures key aspects of our inaugural program.


In the first half of 2012, well over 200 students and teachers from regional middle and high schools, through the course of several visits, came to the Johns Hopkins medical campus to further engage their students outside of the classroom after reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. During the visits, students were privileged to hear from Mrs. Lacks’ grandson, Ron Lacks, about the evolving relationship between Johns Hopkins and the Lacks family. Many labs volunteered to open their doors to invite students to see working stem cell labs, including viewing HeLa cells. Another core portion of the visits are bioethics discussions with members of our faculty. As a result of the popularity of the tours, we decided to host an annual symposium each Spring and invite students from surrounding high schools.