Timeline of HeLa Cells

By: Katie Allison


Henrietta is born in Roanoke, Virginia


Birth of HeLa


George Gey successfully cultures the first immortal cell line using cells from Henrietta's cervix.

The death of Henrietta Lacks

October 4, 1951

Henrietta dies from an unusually aggressive strain of cervical cancer.

HeLa cells become the first living cells shipped via postal mail.

January, 1952

Tuskegee Institute opens "HeLa Factory"

March, 1952

-supplied cells to laboratories and researchers and operating as a nonprofit organization.

HeLa cells help develop the polio vaccine.

May, 1952

HeLa cells become the first cells ever cloned.


HeLa cells are fused with mouse cells, creating animal-human hybrid cells.


Stanley Gartler proposes that HeLa cells have contaiminated numerous cell lines.


Researchers "test for cancer"


Researchers from John Hopkins take samples from Henrietta's children "to see if they have cancer". They really want to collect their genes to make a map of her family genes.

Lacks family learns for the first time that Henrietta's cells are still alive.


Medical records are published


Portions of Henrietta's medical record is published without the knowledge or consent of her family.