The Lacks Family are direct descendants from Henrietta Lacks, a cervical cancer patient whose biospecimens were used without her consent to create immortal cell lines now known as HeLa cells. The impoverished Lacks Family, with no knowledge of the cell lines or their use in biomedical research, had no opportunity to understand or benefit from the potential commercial applications of the biospecimens. Since the publication of Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the Lacks Family has spoken to audiences about their family’s experience both as research participants and as participants informing and directing research and policy.
We are delighted that Ms. Veronica Robinson and Ms. Shirley Lacks will be speaking with us about the legacy of their family's experience in biomedical research and its potential impact on participation and ethics in this modern era of precision medicine.
Veronica Spencer Robinson (far right) is Henrietta Lacks’ great granddaughter. Ms. Robinson is a Lacks Family representative on a panel for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) responsible for reviewing applications for the use of the HeLa cells in research.
Shirley Lacks is Henrietta's daughter-in-law and was close friends with Henrietta's daughter Deborah.
The invitation of the Lacks family was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Nord Family Foundation through CWRU's UCITE Nord Grant, the CWRU Cell and Molecular Biology Training Program (T32 GM008056-34), and the CWRU Department of Bioethics.
PUBLICATIONS ON THE LACKS FAMILY
Beskow LM. Lessons from HeLa Cells: The Ethics and Policy of Biospecimens. Ann Rev Genomics Hum Genet 2016. PMID:26979405
Tweets by the Lacks Family
Henrietta Lacks' DNA has led to medical advances for polio, cancer, HIV & COVID vaccines — but it was taken without consent. Her great-granddaughter Victoria Baptiste (@LacksFamily) tells @namshine about her family's fight for justice. At 8/11pm | Producer: @sandragionas #HELA100 Retweeted by LacksFamily
Thank you First Lady Jeannette Kagame @FirstLadyRwanda we will continue to stand in solidarity with communities around the world, to demand health equity & social justice, & advocate that everyone have access to the lifesaving breakthroughs created from our Hennie's #HeLacells. twitter.com/FirstLadyRwand… Retweeted by LacksFamily
#SayHerName #HenriettaLacks as we push forward by advancing #HELA100, to educate future generations on the impact of her #HeLacells while promoting equity and social justice. twitter.com/CELLebrateHeLa…
Henrietta Lacks' two surviving sons, the eldest, Lawrence Lacks (left), and his brother, David "Sonny" Lacks (right) are honoring their mother's 101st birthday today! Join the @LacksFamily and #HELA100 to ensure the world knows her name and contributions. #HeLaCells #SayHerName Retweeted by LacksFamily
#SayHerName Henrietta Lacks' eldest son, Lawrence Lacks and the rest of the Lacks Family want the world to recognize Henrietta Lacks' contribution! @CELLebrateHeLa #HELA100 #HenriettaLacks twitter.com/CELLebrateHeLa…
#SayHerName Happy 101st Birthday #HenriettaLacks from The @LacksFamily. Show us how you CELLebrate Henrietta Lacks on her birthday by tagging us in a photo of you and your #HELA100 swag pic.twitter.com/2kg20Onu9B— Henrietta Lacks CELLebrate HeLa (@CELLebrateHeLa) August 1, 2021
We look forward to you joining us for the 2021 Virtual Colloquium on October 4, 2021 to CELLebrate our beloved Hennie. Her Legacy Lives On tinyurl.com/2021Colloquium #HeLaCells #HELA100 twitter.com/CELLebrateHeLa…
The 2021 Virtual Colloquium has been rescheduled and registration is now open at https://t.co/fWRJzV9gRd for the #HELA100 Colloquium on October 4, 2021. Learn more about the importance of October 4th as The @LacksFamily CELLebrates #HenriettaLacks #HELAat70 #HeLaCells pic.twitter.com/IKIHWADHv9— Henrietta Lacks CELLebrate HeLa (@CELLebrateHeLa) July 28, 2021
No family should lose a loved one due to #CervicalCancer! We continue to stand in solidarity with women around the world that are carrying the burden of cervical cancer mortality in middle and low-income countries as well as women of color disproportionally affected in the US. twitter.com/CELLebrateHeLa…
#HenriettaLacks' #HeLaCells were vital in developing the #HPVvaccine that WILL help end #CervicalCancer! The @LacksFamily is proud to stand in solidarity with women around the world & @DrNonoSimelela to work toward vaccine equity, screening & treatment. https://t.co/D1b3FjTdFK https://t.co/151O6YpGNK— Henrietta Lacks CELLebrate HeLa (@CELLebrateHeLa) July 6, 2021
Have you voted yet? ⏰Take 30 seconds to help honor the Mother of Modern Medicine! There's still time to vote for the city of #Roanoake to rename Lee Plaza, to #HenriettaLacks Plaza! ✊🏾❤️💯💁🏾♀️ twitter.com/CELLebrateHeLa…