Henrietta Lacks Essay

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The Fluidity of Henrietta Lacks.
Gender Norms & Racial Bias in the study of the Modern “Henrietta Lacks”

Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman whose cancer cells were the source of the HeLa cell line, the first immortalized cell line and one of the most important cell lines in medical research. An immortalized cell line will reproduce indefinitely under specific conditions, and the HeLa cell line continues to be a source of invaluable medical data to present day. Lacks was the unwitting source of these cells from a tumor biopsied during treatment for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S. in 1951. The cells were then cultured by George Otto Gey who created the cell line known as HeLa, which is still …show more content…

Living in Maryland, Henrietta and Day Lacks had three more children, David “Sonny” Lacks, Jr., Deborah Lacks Pullum, and Joseph Lack. Lacks gave birth to her last child at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in November 1950, four and half months before she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. In 2010, Roland Pattillo, a faculty member of the Morehouse School of Medicine who had worked with George Gey and knew the Lacks family, donated a headstone for Lacks. Until then, cells cultured for laboratory studies only survived for a few days at most, which wasn’t long enough to perform a variety of different tests on the same sample. Lacks’ death, Gey had Mary Kubicek, his lab assistant, take further HeLa samples while Henrietta’s body was at Johns Hopkins’ autopsy facility. The roller-tube technique was the method used to culture the cells obtained from the samples the Kubicek collected. Gey was able to start a cell line from Lacks’s sample by isolating one specific cell and repeatedly dividing it, meaning that the same cell could thebe used or conducting many experiments. They became known as HeLa cells, because Gey’s standard method for labeling samples was to use the first two letters of the patient’s first and last

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