BIOL 328 – The Incredible Henrietta Lacks

Subject: Biology / General Biology Question
Topic 1 – The Incredible Henrietta Lacks: Ethical Questions in Scientific Research

HeLa cells were the first cells to be referred to as “immortal” (immortal cells have the ability divide indefinitely). Since their discovery in 1951, HeLa cells have been used to study disease progress as well as disease treatments.

Although the discovery of HeLa cells has been a God send to researchers, and has made a lot of people very rich, the family of the women who provided these cells has lived in virtual poverty. For this discussion conference, please read about origin of the HeLa cell (go to the links below). After learning more about these cells and their origin, tell your classmates what you think. Do you think that the family of Henrietta Lacks deserves compensation for her significant contributions to science? Or, do you think the cells became the property of the surgeons and the hospital when they removed them from Mrs. Lacks?


Information on the origins of the HeLa Cell

HeLa Cell Line

Topic 2- Bioethics and the Elderly

Twice a Child…

Most people are familiar with the adage “once a man, twice a child.” This saying,which also applies to women, recognizes that we come into this world as children, and as time progresses we return to that child-like state later in life. As children, in our “first” childhood we are considered somewhat incompetent and we are dependent on others for our care. As adults in our “second” childhood, we are often placed into a precarious position becausewe must balance the accepted autonomy of adulthood with the realism that help may be needed. In this second childhood, competency may also be challenged.

With the larger number of people reaching that “second” childhood, we as a society must recognize key bioethical issues that may arise in the elderly population.Issues like quality of life, healthcare, and independent living should always be considered during these later stages of life. For this discussion, please read the attached article. After reading the article, please select one of the top-ten ethical challenges addressed in the article (see the table on page 3). For the challenge that you select:

1. Explain the challenge

2. Discuss why this challenge is an ethical issue

3. Explain how you believe the challenge can be overcome

***Each challenge can only be used twice. Please make sure to review the selections prior to posting as duplications will not be accepted***

*** The article focuses on ethical issues facing elderly Canadians, but please remember that these same issues can be experienced worldwide***

Breslin, JM, MacRae, SK, Bell, J, Singer, PA, and the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics Clinical Ethics Group. Top 10 health care ethics challenges facing the public: views of Toronto bioethicists (2005). BMC Medical Ethics, 6:5.

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