Scholars in Residence
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
A presentation by David "Sonny" Lacks, son of Henrietta Lacks
11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013
Polsky Theatre, Carlsen Center
Johnson County Community College
The presentation is free and open to the public.
Sonny Lacks is the son of HenriettaLacks, a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells, taken without her knowledge in 1951, went on to become the first immortal human cells ever grown in the laboratory. Those cells, nicknamed HeLa, became one of the most important tools in modern medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization and more.
In his appearances, Sonny shares with audiences what it meant to find out –decades after the fact – that his mother’s cells were being used in laboratories around the world, bought and sold by the billions. Sonny’s visit puts a personal face to big issues such as the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics and the legal battles over "informed consent."
Sonny’s appearance at JCCC is part of the college’s Scholar-in-Residence program, designed to bring visiting scholars to students, faculty and the public. It is co-sponsored by the English and Journalism division.