Questions about the 2010 Henrietta Lacks Memorial Lecture?

Who should come?
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 Johns Hopkins students, faculty, staff, and their families; research participants; and members of the lay community. 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?
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.

Where can I park?
Complimentary parking is available in Washington Street Garage, which is located at the intersection of Washington and Monument Streets. For those with handicapped placards, complimentary parking is available at the Rutland Street Garage located at 1800 Madison Street. Volunteers will be on hand at both garages to direct you to Turner Auditorium.

What if I have a disability?
A sign language interpreter will be present at the event. Large print handouts and 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.

What will I learn at the lecture?
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks author Rebecca Skloot will share what she learned during ten years of research about Mrs. Lacks, her surviving family members, and the legacy of HeLa cells. You will also learn about the tremendously positive impact the HeLa cell line has had on modern medicine.

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 getting her written consent. (It’s important to note that at this time the practice of obtaining informed consent from cell or tissue donors was essentially unknown among academic medical centers.)

Despite receiving a high standard of medical treatment, Mrs. Lacks ultimately succumbed to this cancer at the young age of 31. However, her cells—called “HeLa” from the first two letters of her first and last names—remarkably continued to reproduce in the laboratory. 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.

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 medical advances worldwide. Johns Hopkins never patented HeLa cells, nor did it sell them commercially or benefit in a direct financial way.

Who is Rebecca Skloot?
Rebecca Skloot is an award-winning, independent science writer who published for a number of national publications, including The New York Times Magazine; Discover; and O, The Oprah Magazine. She is a contributing editor for Popular Science magazine and has also been a correspondent for NPR and PBS. She has an undergraduate degree in biomedical science from Colorado State University and an MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Pittsburgh.

Ms. Skloot has established and is donating a portion of her book’s proceeds to The Henrietta Lacks Foundation. The foundation, which is currently accepting contributions, will, among other goals, provide financial assistance in the form of scholarships to the descendants of Henrietta Lacks.

Arrangements for the appearance of Rebecca Skloot made through Greater Talent Network, Inc., New York, NY.