HeLa: Immortal Cells and Enduring Questions
Date and Time
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Salomon Hall in Maher Hall
In 2010, the publication of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot focused the public’s attention on a type of cell previously familiar only to scientists: HeLa cells. Skloot’s nonfiction work chronicles the discovery in 1951 of the first human cell line to successfully grow outside the body for an extended period of time. Today thousands of labs worldwide continue to use HeLa cells in their research.
Lacks died shortly after the biopsy was done. She never knew the cells taken from and then named for her (Henrietta Lacks) forever changed science and medicine. The rules governing informed consent were less defined in the 1950s, and neither Lacks nor her family gave permission for her tissues to be used in research. Her story still resonates today with the ethical issues surrounding tissue ownership and whether or not a patient should have control over how his tissues, once removed from the body, are treated. Based on the issues presented in Skloot's book, Dr. Laura Rivard from the Department of Biology at USD will discuss the ethical issues surrounding the rapidly advancing field of human genetics. For more information, visit the Voice of San Diego article by Dr. Rivard.