The largest woman in the world (was: HeLa cells)

GENE SIMON HUH huh at wccf.mit.edu
Mon Jul 20 23:18:00 EST 1992


Dear Netters, 

     Thanks very much for your replies to my inquiry regarding the origin of 
the word HeLa.  In response to requests to post a summary of the tally, allow 
me to indulge you.
     Well, the predominant answers were by far "Helen Lane" and "Henrietta 
Lacks" or some such spelling thereof.  The votes for "Helen" and "Henrietta" 
were pretty much neck and neck (out of about maybe 20 or so responses).  I, 
myself, had thought that "Henrietta Lane" was the name before I posted the 
original inquiry.  Shows how much I know :-)
     One interesting thing, though.  Many of the "Henrietta" voters referred 
to an article in Cancer Research (Gey, G.O. et al, 12: 264-265 [1952]) when 
they responded.  The "Helen" group by and large did not supply a primary 
reference, making it seem that the "Henrietta" group were more well informed. 
Well, you know, I looked the reference up.  It's an abstract from some 
meeting about twenty lines long.  It does NOT mention a name as a source of 
the carcinoma cells, nor have I been able to find a primary source stating the 
name.
     I leave you with this to ponder.  Perhaps someone can provide 
me with a better reference?  Was the name verbally provided at the meeting at 
which the first report of HeLa cells was presented?  Or is the source name 
forever enshrouded in the veils of scientific folklore?
     Thanks again for your replies.

Gene "okay, now back to the paper I was writing <<SIGH>>" Huh
huh at wccf.mit.edu     or   huh at mitwccf



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