I enjoyed delivering the keynote address at the Henrietta Lacks Memorial Lecture 2018 on October 6 at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. Afterwards, I had the pleasure of meeting with members of the Lacks family and Roland Pattillo, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta. From left to right is David Lacks, Jr., Devin Lacks, Alyana Rogers, Francis Collins, Roland Pattillo, Jabrea Rogers, Jeri Lacks Whye, and Dorian Lacks. Credit: Joshua Franzos
One of the first things a biomedical researcher learns is that it’s very hard to grow most human cells in the lab for an extended period. In fact, once removed from the human body, most cells will either die immediately or reproduce only a limited number of times. That’s why it was so significant in 1951 that this barrier was overcome for the first time, using cancer cells taken from a 31 year old African American woman named Henrietta Lacks.
Appointed the 16th Director of NIH by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate. He was sworn in on August 17, 2009. On June 6, 2017. President Donald Trump announced his selection of Dr. Collins to continue to serve as the NIH Director.