Release Date: April 17, 2018
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo will share the history of arguably the most important woman in biomedical research, Henrietta Lacks, whose immortal cancer cells were used in research that led to hundreds of medical discoveries, including the development of the polio vaccine.
UB will host a public screening of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” a 2017 film that details how Lacks’ cells were taken without her permission in 1951, and explores the ethics surrounding research consent, privacy and the ownership of DNA.
Following the film, a panel of experts will discuss these ethical concerns along with the state of genetic research, including studies being conducted in Buffalo.
Two of the panelists include a volunteer research participant and a UB professor who studied under one of the scientists involved with Lacks.
The free event is scheduled for Thursday, April 26, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB at 955 Main St., Buffalo.
The film will begin at 6 p.m. and the discussion at 7:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served prior to the screening. Guests are asked to register at researchandyou.eventbrite.com.
“We have a diverse panel of university researchers, people who review and approve studies and, most importantly, members of the community,” said Laurene Tumiel-Berhalter, PhD, director of community translational research in the UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) and associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine in the Jacobs School.
“They know there is a certain amount of distrust surrounding clinical studies within the community, and that those fears are grounded in real, historical facts that we, as researchers, cannot ignore. This event provides the perfect platform for airing those concerns.”
The event is held in honor of the National Institutes of Health’s 15th National DNA Day, a celebration of the anniversary of the completion of the Human Genome Project, the world’s largest collaborative research effort, which successfully identified and mapped all of the genes in human DNA.
Sponsors include the UB Community of Excellence in Genome, Environment and Microbiome (GEM); the UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute; the Mini Medical School in the Jacobs School, and the Patient Voices Network.
“UB GEM is thrilled to collaborate with university partners and with our community, especially surrounding the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, to offer this unique event,” says Jennifer Surtees, PhD, GEM co-director and associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry in the Jacobs School.
“This is a chance to see a great movie, and then learn firsthand how biomedical research is done in 2018, as well as what genomic and genetic research is happening right here at UB.”
Moderators of the panel discussion include Timothy Murphy, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Medicine and CTSI director; and Kinzer Pointer, pastor of Agape Fellowship Baptist Church and chairperson of both the Erie County Poverty Committee in the Erie County Department of Social Services and the board of managers of Millennium Collaborative Care.