Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family cannot afford health insurance. Rebecca Skloot’s best-selling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, soon to be an HBO movie, tells the riveting story of that collision between ethics, race, and medicine in a story inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans and the birth of bioethics. Skloot specializes in narrative science writing and has explored a wide range of topics, including tissue ownership rights, race and medicine, and food politics in The New York Times Magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine, Discover, and elsewhere.
Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, PhD, MD, MAS is the Lee Goldman, MD Endowed Chair in Medicine and Professor of Medicine and of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She is a general internist and cardiovascular disease epidemiologist and directs the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, a research center focused on discovery, innovation, policy, advocacy, and community engagement for communities at risk for poor health and inadequate healthcare.
This event is a benefit for the Henrietta Lacks Foundation.