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
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 ) 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
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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