October 10, 2011

Inaugural Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award winner announced

Urban Health Institute honors work of Newborn Holistic Ministries

The Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute has announced that Newborn Holistic Ministries is the winner of the inaugural Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award, which was created to recognize and support Baltimore community organizations that are collaborating with The Johns Hopkins University to improve the health and well-being of Baltimore City and its residents.

The award was presented at the second Henrietta Lacks Memorial Lecture, held Oct. 1 at the university.

Newborn Holistic Ministries is one of nearly two dozen established community-university collaborations from across the city nominated for the inaugural award of $15,000. The organization was selected by a panel of leaders from community and city organizations and from Johns Hopkins as a model collaboration for creating and sustaining healthier communities.

“Newborn Holistic Ministries represents the best of what community-initiated programs in partnership with Johns Hopkins and other institutions can accomplish,” said Robert Blum, director of the Urban Health Institute. “It is about the rebirth of a neighborhood and the rejuvenation of community residents at the same time.”

Newborn Holistic Ministries was founded in 1996 to preserve and enrich life in Baltimore’s Sandtown-Winchester and Upton communities by providing services to enable residents to meet their material, social and spiritual needs. Newborn has significantly revitalized the 1900 and 2000 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue, while also running Martha’s Place, a program for women overcoming drug addiction and homelessness, and Jubilee Arts, a program that offers arts classes and cultural opportunities as alternatives to violence and drugs. Johns Hopkins collaborates with Newborn through student internships and by providing resident physicians who serve clients of Martha’s Place.

Accepting the award for the organization were Elder Harris and Todd Marcus, its founder and president, respectively.

Also recognized at the event were two other finalists, the Incentive Mentoring Program and Catholic Charities’ Esperanza Center Health Services Program.

Henrietta Lacks was an East Baltimore resident and cervical cancer patient at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in the early 1950s, when cells taken from her tumor became the first “immortal” human cells grown in culture; they have since led to breakthroughs in cell research related to cancer, AIDS, the effects of radiation and more. 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.

The mission of the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute is to serve as a catalyst that brings together the resources of Johns Hopkins Institutions with the city of Baltimore, and especially East Baltimore, to improve the community’s health and well-being.