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An Evening With the Lacks Family
Ohio Northern University presents “An Evening With the Lacks Family,” sponsored by ONU’s Committee on the Arts and Special Events, Freed Center for the Performing Arts, and Office of Multicultural Development.
Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m.
Freed Center for the Performing Arts
This event is free and open to the public.
Members of the Lacks family will discuss Henrietta Lacks and her important contribution to science. The presentation puts a personal face to big issues such as the dark history of experimentation on African-Americans, the birth of bioethics, the legal battles over “informed consent,” and whether we control the stuff we’re made of and should share in the profits.
Henrietta Lacks was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells, taken without her knowledge in 1951, went on to become the first immortal human cells ever grown in the laboratory. This group of cells, nicknamed HeLa, became one of the most important tools in modern medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Although Henrietta died in 1951, her cells – alive and growing to this day – are still the most widely used cell line in the world.
A book signing will be held following the presentation. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is available for purchase at the campus bookstore at ONU. The bookstore will be open until 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 21.
Veronica Spencer is Henrietta Lacks’ great granddaughter. Inspired by Henrietta’s story, she is currently studying to become a Registered Nurse at Baltimore City Community College. She represents the Lacks family on the National Institute of the Science’s panel that reviews applications to conduct research using the HeLa genome. Veronica is also a mentor at Johns Hopkins for Dunbar Scholars and a very active member of the Lacks Family Foundation.
Kim Lacks, a banking representative in Baltimore, is Henrietta Lacks’ granddaughter. She has traveled with her father and other family members on dozens of trips around the country, adding her own perspective on the legacy of Henrietta Lacks and the HeLa cells. She is also one of the family members consulting on the highly-anticipated HBO film based on “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” produced by Oprah Winfrey and Allan Ball.