Can Henrietta Lacks Show Us the Way?
To prepare for this Discussion, review the Grady article in this week’s Learning Resources, -Second Opinion: A Lasting Gift to Medicine That Wasn’t Really a Gift” on the case of Henrietta Lacks and the famous “HeLa” cell line.
Post a comprehensive response to the following:
• In your opinion, who owns the results of research (the cells, the cell lines)? Support your rationale using ethical principles.
• Should Henrietta Lacks’ descendents receive remuneration for the products resulting from the research conducted with HeLa cells? Support your rationale with legal principles.
If Ms. Lacks had given informed consent, would your opinion change?
• Course Text: Law and Ethics for the Health Professions
o Chapter 11, “The Beginning of Life and Childhood”
Few topics spark greater ethical debate than genetics and the concept of when life begins. This chapter examines various hot-topic issues related to genetics and our ever-advancing technological capabilities.
• Course Text: Medical Law, Ethics, and Bioethics for the Health Professions”
This chapter takes another look at some of the controversies surrounding the issue of genetic engineering.
o Chapter 15, “Reproductive Issues”
• Article: Grady, D. (2010, February 1). Second opinion: A lasting gift to medicine that wasn’t really a gift. The New York Times. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
• How do you balance major benefits to medical research with an individual’s fundamental rights? This article provides an excellent overview of the Henrietta Lacks story.
• Article: Harmon, A. (2010, April 22). Tribe wins fight to limit research of its DNA. New York Times. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
This article profiles the Havasupai Indians” (an Arizona Native American tribe) victory in a lengthy battle with a state university to limit research conducted on tribe members” DNA.
• Article: Epstein, R. H. (2010, March 23). Pioneer reflects on future of reproductive medicine. The New York Times. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
Dr. Howard W. Jones Jr., a pioneer in the field of fertility, reflects on the rise of commercial fertility clinics.
• Audio Podcast: Gross, T. (2010, February 2). “Henrietta Lacks”: A donor’s immortal legacy [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from
• Rebecca Skloot: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks