January 2021
New Timeline and Science/History Lesson Plans for the Classroom: Henrietta Lacks' Life and Contributions to Medical Research
Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code presents a new timeline highlighting the life of Henrietta Lacks and the medical science discoveries resulting from her cells known as HeLa cells. As you scroll through the timeline, you will learn more about who Henrietta Lacks was, how HeLa cells were discovered, and how medical science has benefitted.
The timeline complements four new lesson plans created by K-12 educators in partnership with the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Human Genome Research Institute. The lesson plans explore a variety of topics that interconnect Henrietta Lacks’ life and experiences and highlight the importance of these topics to our current understanding of science and society. Each lesson plan comes with instructional materials including resource sheets, PowerPoint slides, and introductory activities. Applicable Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards are listed, and each lesson plan is available in PDF form for easy download.

Segregation and the Complicated Legacy of Henrietta Lacks, Volume 1
Created for grades 9-12, this set of Common Core State Standard-aligned instructional materials explores factors associated with societal equality through the lens of Henrietta Lacks. Students will explore the impact segregation had on her life and how that impact led to the complicated legacy of Henrietta Lacks. Students will study segregation, mistreatment, and immortality to understand the impact of Henrietta Lacks and HeLa cells on society.

Racism in Medicine or Healthcare Curriculum, Volume 2
Created for 9th-12th grade inquiry, this set of Common Core State Standards-aligned instructional materials allows students to explore the impact of racism in science and medicine. Using primary and secondary source documents, students will discuss scientific racism and how African Americans have been viewed by some scientists and mis-used by certain medical professionals. Students will analyze the impact of scientific racism on the African American community and evaluate the reaction of African Americans to scientific racism.

Cervical Cancer and HPV Perspective Curriculum, Volume 3
This set of Next-Generation Science Standards-aligned, instructional materials focus on the history and legacy of Henrietta Lacks while making connections to cervical cancer caused by Human Papillomavirus. Students will explore how the cell cycle can be disrupted and understand the causes of cervical cancer. In addition, students will be expected to assess the pros and cons of the HPV vaccine.

Then and Now: Cancer Treatments from Henrietta Lacks to Today, Volume 4
This set of Next Generation Science Standards-aligned instructional materials explores the biology underlying cancer and how it presents opportunities for treatment. Students consider how Henrietta Lacks’ cancer was treated via an implanted radioactive device and science concepts associated with the role of cancer in making HeLa cells “immortal.” Students will have an opportunity to design a protein that inhibits telomerase function as they develop their understanding of recent cancer treatments.

This month's featured article in
Genomics: Insights

Author: Marya S. Sabir

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