Cape freshmen study historic HeLa cells' impact on medical researchCross-curricular project combines science, language and research skills
Cape Henlopen High School celebrated the legacy of Henrietta Lacks and her revolutionary cells on May 24 with a HeLa Cell-abration. During the school year, the freshman English classes read "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot and then presented results of their research about the impact that Lacks' cells, dubbed HeLa cells, had on scientific research and medical history.
Specially selected projects were presented in the rotunda. Each project showed an important medical breakthrough. Fellow students had the opportunity to walk around the rotunda, learning about the life of Henrietta Lacks and how her unique cells contributed to scientific knowledge.
Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer in 1961 at the age of 31. Her cells were taken by scientists for research after her death. Her cells were unlike any others researched before her. Instead of dying, they survived outside her body and multiplied. They were used to create huge medical experiments and advancements such as new cures.
As part of the day's events, freshman Emily Zimmerman presented a project on Kalydeco, a prescription medicine used for the treatment of cystic fibrosis. The use of HeLa cells in research has contributed to an expansion of knowledge in this and many other diseases.
"I had a great time, and I learned a lot from the other presentations," said Zimmerman.