Alan Ball

An immortal contribution

Henrietta Lacks was an African-American mother of five living in Baltimore County's Turner Station when she died, unheralded, of cervical cancer at the age of 31. Yet the malignant cells that killed her, which were taken from a cervical tissue sample without her consent, have lived on for decades after her death in laboratories around the world, where researchers are still using them to develop treatments and vaccines that have benefited millions of people. That is why it was only fitting that this week the National Institutes of Health formally acknowledged the contribution her "immortal" cells have made to the advancement of medical science and honored the family of the...