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Medical Ethics And The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The San Diego Ethics Forum teams with schools around the county -- to tell the story of the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

A major collaboration is about to get underway among colleges and universities in San Diego, all centered around the strange story of a woman who died of cancer 60-years ago. The book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has won many awards and raises many questions. The San Diego Ethics Center is devoting nine of its monthly discussions to aspects of the Henrietta Lacks story and the schools will participate in events ranging from art, literature and theater projects. But, most of all this project will encourage a cross-campus group of students to read about and talk about the same profound issue at the same time.

Henrietta Lacks who was a poor black farmer had her cancer cells taken without her knowledge in 1951 and those cells became one of the most important tools in medicine. Lacks cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet her family cannot afford health insurance.


Michael Kalichman, director, The Center for Ethics in Science and Technology and Research Ethics Program at University of California, San Diego.

Christopher Frost, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies at San Diego State University

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