Although it is medically and scientifically fascinating how one woman's cells have been so pivotal in countless research and contributed to the development of so many significant drugs, this story serves as a reminder that members of the scientific community are responsible for upholding the highest ethical standards.
The experiences of people like Henrietta Lacks, and the victims of the Tuskegee Syphilis and Isla San Jose Experiments continue to leave emotional wounds in the Black community in the United States.
The repercussions of these unethical human experiments are still felt to this day. They continue to affect minority participation and diversity in drug trials and diminish trust in medical and pharmaceutical research.
The pharmaceutical industry has come far and is committed to the highest ethical standards. We must uphold these and also continue to evolve them. New technologies such as gene editing, cell-based therapeutics, and even the use of AI in research pose new ethical questions. We must address those questions in a way that continues to build and strengthen trust in our research.
Read more about the recent developments in Henrietta Lacks' case in this NPR article.