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
RT to join The @LacksFamily in wishing #HenriettaLacks The Mother of Modern Medicine a Happy 102nd Birthday. Henrietta Lacks’ eldest and only surviving child Lawrence Lacks visited Lackstown where his sister, mother, grandmother & other relatives are laying to rest. #HeLaCells Retweeted by LacksFamily
Millions of people have benefited from the medical advances and protections derived from Henrietta Lacks’ cells. I’m proud to help lead this effort with Senator @ChrisVanHollen to award the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of the tremendous impact of her life and legacy. Retweeted by LacksFamily
The debt of gratitude we owe Henrietta Lacks can never be fully repaid. But we can work to right this historic wrong and honor her legacy. @SenatorCardin & I intro’d a bill to honor Mrs. Lacks with a Congressional Gold Medal to publicly recognize her contributions to the world. Retweeted by LacksFamily
ICYMI: March is Women's History Month and I wanted to honor a very special woman in history, Henrietta Lacks. Her immortal cells have been responsible for many medical breakthroughs. She deserves the Congressional Gold Medal. @LacksFamily #HenriettaLacks baltimoresun.com/politics/bs-md… Retweeted by LacksFamily
The @LacksFamily is thankful to Senator @ChrisVanHollen & @SenatorCardin for recognizing and honoring the legacy of #HenriettaLacks, we #CELLebrate the introduction of a bill to honor our beloved Hennie with a Congressional Gold Medal. #HeLaCells #MD twitter.com/ChrisVanHollen… Retweeted by LacksFamily
We CELLebrate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson! Today the United States Senate confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, making her the 116th justice — and the first Black woman — to serve on the top U.S. court. We are inspired by her actions and words! Retweeted by LacksFamily
@CELLebrateHeLa Rocking the @LacksFamily #HELA100 #HenriettaLacks Commemorative Pin w/ JaiSauna @JLuxJewels honoring one of our favorites - Mr. Lawrence Lacks, Sr. Henrietta Lacks' Eldest Son at his 87th Birthday dinner just last month! #CELLebrate #HenriettaLacks #NationalJewelDay Retweeted by LacksFamily
@rochelleriley Thank you for helping The @LacksFamily educate the world on the incontestable impact Henrietta Lacks has left. As The Lacks Family continues to reclaim our narrative we ask those interested in our beloved Hennie's story & our family legacy to visit hela100.org Retweeted by LacksFamily