MSM Hosts 20th Annual HeLa Conference Highlighting Precision Medicine Through the Legacy of Henrietta Lacks


Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) hosted the 20th Annual HeLa Conference and Healthy Living & Community Engagement Day on September 18-19, 2015, highlighting the benefits of precision medicine through the life, legacy and contribution of Henrietta Lacks and recognizing local media partners for championing health equity.


The conference, titled “Precision Medicine and Health Equity,” was a part of Morehouse School of Medicine's 40th Anniversary and included prominent speakers discussing precision medicine, health equity, delivery systems, and the Affordable Care Act relative to women's health.


The event's speakers included:


  • Lynn Rosenberg, Sc.D., Associate Director, Slone Epidemiology Center, Professor of Epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health
  • Rathi N. Pillai, M.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Hematology & Medical Oncology, Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University School of Medicine
  • Vivian W. Pinn, M.D., Senior Scientist Emerita, Fogarty International Center, Former Director (Retired), Office of Research on Women's Health
  • Eliseo J. Perez-Stable, M.D., Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) National Institutes of Health
  • Rear Admiral (RADM) Sylvia Trent-Adams, Chief Nursing Officer, US Public Health Service, US Department of Health and Human Services
  • Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., Commissioner and State Health Officer, Georgia Department of Public Health
  • Eva McGhee, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Cancer Research and Training, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
  • Otis W. Brawley, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, American Cancer Society
  • Irene Dankwa-Mullan, M.D,, M.P.H., Deputy Director (Acting), Division of Extramural Scientific Programs, NIMHD
  • Roland Pattillo, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., HeLa Conference Chair, Professor Emeritus, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Morehouse School of Medicine
  • Roland P. Matthews, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., HeLa Conference Co-Chair, Professor and Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Morehouse School of Medicine


The HeLa conference also featured the dedication and unveiling of a commissioned bronze statue of Mrs. Henrietta Lacks by noted sculptor Jonas Washington Perkins with several of Mrs. Lacks's relatives in attendance.


In addition to the clinical and scientific activities of the HeLa conference on Friday, September 18, there was a second day on Saturday, September 19, dedicated to community engagement around women's health and wellness-related topics titled Healthy Living & Community Engagement Day (HLCED).


HLCED took place on the MSM campus as well and featured free health screenings, health-related programs and workshops, STEAM activities for families to take part in, fun games, a marching band, healthy food market shopping, and a special appearance by 15-year-old Pro All Star Series race car driver Matt Murphy.


HLCED also featured a special presentation of MSM's "Media Partners for Health Equity" awards to local media professionals and outlets that consistently expose stories on health disparities and support and promote stories about equity in health care.


"Media Partners for Health Equity" award winners: