When researchers approached David Lacks Jr. and Veronica Robinson about their ancestor, Henrietta Lacks, they were shocked to learn that her cells had been harvested and used to develop life-saving vaccinations. They share their families efforts to take control of their medical history and rebuild trust with the medical community.
David Lacks Jr. and Veronica Robinson are the grandson and great-granddaughter of Henrietta Lacks, a woman whose cells were harvested without her consent to create vaccines for diseases ranging from polio to HPV. The two are passionate patient-rights activists who have traveled the country speaking truth to power as they share Henrietta’s story and advocate for bioethics policies and medical consent laws. Lacks and Robinson currently represent their family on a panel at the National Institute for Health (NIH) that reviews applications for the use of HeLa cells in research.