Henrietta Lacks Biography - The Immortal Cell Life Lives On
HeLa, as Henrietta Lacks is known to research scientists, is famous for her unwitting contribution to cancer research. Born August 1, 1920, this African American woman became one of the greatest contributors to scientists' struggles to find a cure for cancer. Upon her death from cervical cancer on October 4, 1951, her cancerous tumor was cultured by George Otto Grey. His goal was to create what he called an “immortal” line of cells for continuing cancer research after her death. This deathless cell line came to be known as the HeLa cell line.
Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1951. Doctors at Maryland's Johns Hopkins University informed Henrietta that her illness was terminal. No survival was expected. During her treatment at the hospital, Dr. George Gey clipped cancerous cells from her cervix without her knowledge. During his studies of the cells, Dr. Gey found that Mrs. Lacks' cells were essentially immortal. And, so the infinite research began.
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- The Biography Foundation, August 2012
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