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9/2/2010 —

Henrietta Lacks, a poor, southern tobacco farmer,  is known throughout the medical world for changing the course of science. Only, she’ll never know. Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at University of Pennsylvania, will discuss how Lacks' cancer-stricken cells, taken without her knowledge, became an important medical tool during his talk “Bioethics and Henrietta Lacks” at 11:30 a.m., Thursday, September 16, in the Tomezsko Classroom Building Lounge at Penn State Brandywine.

Though she has been dead for more than 60 years, Lacks’ cells, known as “HeLa cells,” remain alive today—duplicated and grown in culture. These cells were vital in developing the polio vaccine and helped unlock clues to understanding cancer, viruses and the atom.

Caplan's talk is the first in a yearlong series of programs and events relating to the campus' Common Read Program, which encourages the campus community to read a book chosen at the beginning of the year and then explore it in a variety of ways. This year’s common read is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

Caplan is widely known for his research on transplantation research ethics, genetics, reproductive technologies, health policy and general bioethics. He has a regular column titled “Breaking Bioethics” on MSNBC.com and has published dozens of books on his research.

For more information, contact Patricia Hillen at 610-892-1372 or pah14@psu.edu. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Upcoming Events:
"Diagnosis is Cancer: Now What"
"What Henrietta Lacks Could Have Done as a Penn State Employee"

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