New Educational Video on HeLa Cells From Henrietta Lacks

TED-Ed has created an animated educational video on the well-known, continually regenerating HeLa cells, biopsied from Henrietta Lacks shortly before her death from cervical cancer in 1951. Scientists later found the cells to be the first to thrive in a lab. Soon renamed HeLa cells, they were distributed to labs throughout the research world and have been central to more than 74,000 studies, many resulting in advances in cancer, cell biology, vaccines, and in vitro fertilization. All without the initial consent of Henrietta Lacks for the biopsy, her family's knowledge or participation in shaping ongoing research, and (until recently) their ability to receive benefits from resulting advances in healthcare.  

The educational video can be found below and at this TED-ED site. Articles providing more biographical, medical and legal context can be found at The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. And a fuller narrative introduction to Henrietta Lacks, her family, her cells' significance for scientific research, and the medical ethics questions they raise can be had via Rebecca Skloot's book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Educator: Robin Buller, Script Editor: Eleanor Nelsen, and Animator: Brandon Denmark (TED-Ed Original)

Henrietta Lacks in the 1940s (Lacks Family/Henrietta Lacks Foundation)

Henrietta Lacks in the 1940s (Lacks Family/Henrietta Lacks Foundation)