June 20, 2011

Lacks Award honors collaboration between Baltimore communities and JH

The Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute has established a $15,000 award to recognize and support Baltimore community organizations that are collaborating with The Johns Hopkins University to improve the health and well-being of the residents of the city of Baltimore.

The Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award, named in recognition of Henrietta Lacks, highlights the importance of collaboration between the community and the university and recognizes the accomplishments of these partnerships. The Urban Health Institute will be accepting nominations for the inaugural award until July 15. The winner will be announced on Oct. 1 at Johns Hopkins’ annual Henrietta Lacks Memorial Lecture, a series that was launched in 2010.

Collaborators may self-nominate or be nominated by others. Partnerships must include at least one community organization and at least one Johns Hopkins faculty member, staff member or group working together on a community program that has been sustained for a minimum of three years. There can be multiple organizations and/or universities engaged in the initiative. The award will be given to the community entity that is the central partner in the relationship.

Nominations will be reviewed by a selection committee composed of leadership from community and city organizations and Johns Hopkins.

Henrietta Lacks was an East Baltimore resident and cervical cancer patient in the early 1950s at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, where cells taken from her tumor became the first “immortal” human cells grown in culture and have led to breakthroughs in cell research related to cancer, AIDS, the effects of radiation and more. Lacks’ family was unaware that her cells, now known worldwide as HeLa cells, were being used for research until more than 20 years after her death. The Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award honors Lacks and her family and is intended to be an enduring reminder of her contribution to medical science and to her community.

For more information about the award, including nomination submission information, go to the Urban Health Institute website at www.jhsph.edu/urbanhealth or email Amy Gawad at agawad@jhsph.edu.