Johns Hopkins University To Name Building After Henrietta Lacks

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Over 60 years after using her cells without her permission, giving way to several discoveries and advancements in the medical field, Johns Hopkins University announced that they would be naming a building on their campus after Henrietta Lacks. The announcement was made during the 9th annual Henrietta Lacks Memorial Lecture, per Washington D.C.’s NBC News 4.

Lacks, a black woman, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the ‘50s, and she was being treated at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. However, without her consent, her cells were used to create HeLa cells, known to the world as the first strain of self-replicating cells. The removal of the cells helped doctors develop the polio vaccine, and they were also able to conduct groundbreaking research in the fight against cancer and AIDS.

“Yet, for decades, even as Johns Hopkins and other major research institutions relied on HeLa cells for innumerable studies and discoveries, the identity of the woman behind the cells was largely unknown, including to her own family,” said Johns Hopkins University President Ronald Daniels during his announcement regarding the new building.

The new building will be located on the medical campus for the university in East Baltimore. Members of Lacks’ family have demanded compensation, especially from the university.

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