BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Johns Hopkins and descendants of the late Henrietta Lacks announced plans to name a new research building after Lacks in honor of her impact on science and medicine.
The new building will be built next to the Berman Institute of Biotechs’ Deering Hall and will support programs that “enhance participation with members of the community in mutually beneficial research opportunities.”
Groundbreaking on the building is scheduled for 2020 and is anticipated to have a 2022 completion date.
Henrietta Lacks was a young mother of five from eastern Baltimore County who, despite radiation treatment at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, died in 1951 of an aggressive cancer. Lacks was the source of the HeLa cell line that has been critical to numerous advances in medicine.
“Through her life and immortal cells, Henrietta Lacks made an immeasurable impact on science and medicine that has touched countless lives around the world,” said Johns Hopkins University President, Ronald Daniels. “This building will stand as a testament to her transformative impact on scientific discovery and the ethics that must undergird its pursuit.”
Henrietta Lacks’ contributions to science weren’t well known until the 2010 release of the book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot, which explored Lacks’ life story. In 2017, HBO released a movie based on the book, with Oprah Winfrey starring as Henrietta Lacks’ daughter, Deborah.
Since 2010, Johns Hopkins’ work with members of the Lacks family has resulted in the development of a series of programs to recognize and honor Henrietta Lacks, her extraordinary contribution to clinical research, and her help advancing health throughout the world.
“It’s a proud day for the Lacks family,” said Jeri Lacks, Henrietta’s granddaughter. “They are all meaningful, but this is the ultimate honor, one befitting of her role in advancing modern medicine.”