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Explore the Constellation

The Mother of Modern Medicine

Art

This portrait, Henrietta Lacks (Hela): The Mother of Modern Medicine, by artist Kadir Nelson (2017), offers a prideful and glowing image of a woman often referred to as the “Mother of Modern Medicine.” Henrietta Lacks’ cancer treatment resulted in the creation of the first immortalized cell line that spawned breakthroughs in the polio vaccine, chemotherapy, cloning, gene mapping, and in-vitro fertilization. A biography about Lacks published in 2011 brought questions of ethics and patients’ rights to the foreground of discussion about scientific experimentation.