Writing Assignment: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
You have a packet of selections from a book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It is the story of how one woman’s cervical cancer changed the field of medical research, yet her family never received any credit or compensation for it. Your assignment is to read all the material and provide thoughtful, meaningful answers to the questions below. I expect you to answer the questions based on your opinion, but backed up with material from the text. In other words, I would like you to use (and reference with page numbers) specific information from the selections in your answers. Since there are many answers for the questions in this assignment, I am grading your paper based on the quality of your arguments and the extent to which you back up your opinions. This assignment is worth 20 points. I hate providing length requirements to writing assignments, but in order to give thorough and complete responses your paper should be between two and three pages.
1) What seemed to be George Gey’s primary motivation for his work with Henrietta’s cells? Was it for science, profit, or both? How can you tell?
2) Henrietta and her family were clearly uninformed about the role of her cells in medical research. Do you believe this is a result of the early exploratory nature of medical cell research, a product of the pre-civil rights era treatment of minorities, or both?
3) Laws regarding the scientific use of human tissue currently favor the researchers’ interests over the rights of patients/donors. Should the laws be changed in any way?
4) Should the Lacks family take legal action against Johns Hopkins or other medical research organizations? If so, what should they demand in the lawsuit? If not, why not?