Teaching Through Henrietta Lacks: Race, Class and Gender in Biomedical Research
Tuesday 24 July 2012, 1:00pm - 1:50pm

As part of an undergraduate curriculum development project funded by the Empire State Stem Cell Board, I have developed a case study teaching module titled "HeLa: Immortality and Cancer." The module centers on the topic of human subjects research and moves students from the establishment of the first human cell line, to cancer research using the incarcerated, to the creation and testing of the Salk polio vaccine using children.

It asks students to adopt the roles of various stakeholders and brings the challenges associated with human cell and DNA research to the present day by reviewing three instances of biobanking; the recent decision (Flynn vs. Holder) to pay donors for bone marrow stem cells; large private database projects such as the Parkinson's Genetic Disease Initiative established by Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google; and the lack of health insurance coverage for those who have tested positive for HPV DNA. 

Portions of the module and its resources were shared in the interest of receiving feedback to inform a final draft that will be made publicly available from the ESSCB educational portal. Interested individuals should contact Katayoun Chamany for drafts of the assignment, teaching notes, rubrics, and resource list.

Knickerbocker Room