Bioethics panelists meet with PA students
Oct. 19, 2012 - Quinnipiac hosted a panel discussion on bioethics, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" on Oct. 17. Panelists met with physician assistant students before the panel discussion in the evening, which was open to the public.
Lacks was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells -- taken without her knowledge in 1951-- became the source for the first immortal human cells ever grown in a laboratory.
The billions of cells, known as "HeLa," were bought and sold by laboratories around the world. They became one of the most important tools in medicine, cloning, gene mapping and in-vitro fertilization. However, her family did not know the cells existed for more than a decade. Her adult children found out they were used in research without their consent. Her cells remain the most widely used cell line in the world.
The panelists used Lacks' story as a springboard for a wider discussion on bioethics.
- Ruth Faden, the Philip Franklin Wagley Professor of Biomedical Ethics and director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics;
- David "Sonny" Lacks, Henrietta Lacks' son
- Michael Rogers, a futurist-in-residence at The New York Times and columnist at MSNBC.