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Call for Applications for the 2023 Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award 

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Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute announces call for applications for the 2023 Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award. 

The Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute (UHI) is now accepting applications for the prestigious Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award. Created to honor the memory of Henrietta Lacks, a former resident of Turner Station and a cancer patient at Johns Hopkins Hospital, this award aims to recognize the groundbreaking contributions of Mrs. Lacks' cells in medical research and foster community-university partnerships in Baltimore City. 

Henrietta Lacks was a Black woman who underwent treatment for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951. During her treatment, some of her cancerous cells were taken for research without her consent. Her cells, known in laboratories as "HeLa," have since been instrumental in medical research worldwide, providing invaluable insights into understanding, treating, and preventing various diseases. 

To commemorate her legacy and the significant impact of community-university collaborations, the UHI is offering a $15,000 award to Baltimore City community-based programs that have worked closely with Johns Hopkins faculty, students, or staff to address crucial issues affecting the community. The application deadline for this year's award is August 21, 2023, at 5 pm ET. 

Apply here: 

"The Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award is a testament to the enduring legacy of Henrietta Lacks and her invaluable contribution to medical science," said Kendrick Gwynn, MD, MPH, associate director of the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute and Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "Through this initiative, we seek to celebrate the power of community-university partnerships and their potential to drive positive change in Baltimore City." 

To be eligible for the Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award, groups must have collaborated with Johns Hopkins for a minimum of two years on projects focusing on poverty, community health and well-being, social justice, or neighborhood development within Baltimore City. Partnerships should involve at least one community-based organization and at least one member from Johns Hopkins faculty or staff. Applications may be self-submitted or nominated by others. 

Preference will be given to initiatives targeting child and adolescent health, education, and well-being; efforts to alleviate poverty; initiatives addressing inequalities and disparities; and projects strengthening the social fabric of neighborhoods. 

The award will be presented during the annual Henrietta Lacks Memorial Lecture hosted by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research scheduled to take place Saturday, October 7, 2023.  

“The Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award was a game changer for us because it helped us to lift up our answer to Youth Food Insecurity in Baltimore, The Granny Project,” said Joni Holifield, founder and executive director of HeartSmiles, who won the award in 2020. “The Granny project allows youth to connect with older members of the community around something we all enjoy, our favorite foods. In the spirit of community building, helping others, and creating legacy, we are forever grateful for the opportunity and platform the HLMA has provided us.” 

For more information about the Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award and the application process, please visit

About Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute (UHI) 

The Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute is dedicated to advancing health and well-being in Baltimore and other urban communities. By fostering collaboration and partnerships among academic, community, and public health institutions, UHI strives to address health disparities, promote equity, and create a healthier future for all. 


Mary A. Spiro, Communications Associate, Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute, 

Tomozia H. Graves, Communications Coordinator, Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute, tgrave18@jhu