Skip to Content

Panel discussion:
Overcoming a Legacy of Mistrust:
Reflections on "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks


Presented by The Paramount, the Curry School of Education, the Carter G. Woodson Institute at the College of Arts & Sciences, and the Department of Public Health Sciences

View the broadcast of this event on iTunes, here.


Date:Sunday, January 23 , 2011
Location:The Paramount Theater, Charlottesville Downtown Mall
Time: 4 p.m. Reception to follow.

book cover Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksIn 1951, a scientist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, created the first immortal human cell line with a tissue sample taken from a young black woman with cervical cancer. Those cells, called HeLa cells, quickly became invaluable to medical research--though their donor remained a mystery for decades.

Since then her cells have been shipped to scientists all over the world and traveled on space missions for the purposes of research.

While Henrietta’s trillions of cells are used in the advancement of science, many of her family members continue to live without health insurance.

Listen to NPR coverage of the story of Henrietta Lacks, and see the CBS Sunday Morning broadcast here.

Join us for a discussion of the story of Henrietta Lacks, told through this book by Rebecca Skloot. Panelists will include Karen Waters of the Charlottesville Quality Community Council, Charlottesville Vice Mayor Holly Edwards, Dr. Jeanita Richardson and Dr. Patrick Tolan.

Jim Childress

Panel moderator James F. Childress is University Professor and John Allen Hollingsworth Professor of Ethics at the University of Virginia, where he directs the Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life. In 2002 he received the University of Virginia’s highest honor—the Thomas Jefferson Award; and in 2004 he received the Life-time Achievement Award from the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities.

Childress is the author of numerous articles and several books in biomedical ethics and in other areas of ethics.  His books in biomedical ethics include Principles of Biomedical Ethics (with Tom L. Beauchamp), now in its 6th edition and translated into several languages; Priorities in Biomedical Ethics; Who Should Decide? Paternalism in Health Care; and Practical Reasoning in Bioethics. 

Childress has been actively involved in several national committees examining ethics and public policy.  He was vice chair of the national Task Force on Organ Transplantation, and a member of the presidentially-appointed National Bioethics Advisory Commission 1996-2001. He now chairs the Health Sciences Policy Board of the Institute of Medicine.

Download a flyer for this event here.