File #: 210184    Version: 0 Name:
Type: Resolution Status: ADOPTED
File created: 3/4/2021 In control: CITY COUNCIL
On agenda: Final action: 3/11/2021
Title: Remembering Henrietta Lacks and honoring her contribution to modern medicine, including the development of COVID-19 vaccines.
Sponsors: Councilmember Parker, Councilmember Squilla, Councilmember Johnson, Councilmember Gauthier, Councilmember Jones, Councilmember Henon, Councilmember Quiñones Sánchez, Councilmember Bass, Councilmember O'Neill, Councilmember Brooks, Councilmember Domb, Councilmember Gilmore Richardson, Councilmember Green, Councilmember Gym, Councilmember Thomas, Council President Clarke
Attachments: 1. Resolution No. 21018400, 2. Signature21018400
Remembering Henrietta Lacks and honoring her contribution to modern medicine, including the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

WHEREAS, In 1951, a 31 year-old mother of five named Henrietta Lacks visited The Johns Hopkins Hospital complaining of vaginal bleeding. Upon examination, renowned gynecologist Dr. Howard Jones discovered a large, malignant tumor on her cervix. At the time, The Johns Hopkins Hospital was one of only a few hospitals that treated poor African Americans; and

WHEREAS, As medical records show, Mrs. Lacks began undergoing radium treatments for her cervical cancer. This was the best medical treatment available at the time for this terrible disease. Unfortunately, her cancer was too advanced and aggressive, and she passed away on October 4, 1951; and

WHEREAS, During her treatment, a sample of her cancer cells retrieved during a biopsy were sent to Dr. George Gey's nearby tissue lab. For years, Dr. Gey, a prominent cancer and virus researcher, had been collecting cells from all patients who came to The Johns Hopkins Hospital with cervical cancer, but each sample quickly died in Dr. Gey's lab. What he would soon discover was that Mrs. Lacks' cells were unlike any of the others he had ever seen: where other cells would die, Mrs. Lacks' cells doubled every 20 to 24 hours; and

WHEREAS, When the cells were given to Dr. Gey, this was done without Mrs. Lacks' knowledge or consent, illustrating the racial inequities that were, and still are, embedded in the U.S. research and healthcare systems; and

WHEREAS, In the laboratory, Mrs. Lacks' cells turned out to have an extraordinary capacity to survive and reproduce; they were, in essence, immortal. These incredible cells - nicknamed "HeLa" cells, from the first two letters of her first and last names - became the first living human cell line. Dr. Gey shared the cells widely with other scientists, and they became a workhorse of biological research. They have been used to study the human genome...

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