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Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Cervical Cancer Intervention Received Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award


CHECC-uP, a cervical cancer intervention developed by a collaborative research team at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing (JHSON) to serve minority women living with HIV, has received the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute’s 2018 Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award. The award recognizes the school’s collaboration with OWEL—the Baltimore-based HIV support group—and the positive impact the partnership has had on the health and well-being of Baltimore.

Through the intervention, JHSON and OWEL (Older Women Embracing Life) promote cervical cancer screening among minority women with HIV, particularly those who have not gotten regular pap smears in the past. The project closely ties with Henrietta Lacks, who died of an aggressive form of cervical cancer. Her cells, now called HeLa cells, were the first immortalized cell line and have led to the development of many medical advancements.

“Receiving this award is a meaningful testament to our work, the legacy of Henrietta Lacks, and the growing opportunities that still exist within our community to better promote cervical cancer awareness,” says Hae-Ra Han, PhD, RN, FAAN, JHSON professor and principal investigator of CHECC-uP. “Women who are HIV positive are four to eight times more likely to develop cervical cancer, and it’s important that this population understands their risk and knows that early detection and prevention are possible.”  

Melanie Reese, executive director of OWEL, accepted the award at the Henrietta Lacks Memorial Lecture hosted by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical & Translational Research on October 6.

“We appreciate the fact that older women with pre-existing conditions can be a part of research,” says Reese. “I’m alive because of Henrietta Lacks. HeLa cells enabled the treatments that help me stay alive. I’m proud to give back to research.” Through CHECC-uP, women, young and older adults, minorities, and people with comorbidities and preexisting conditions—historically excluded from medical research—have been able to participate in research.

“OWEL’s involvement in this invention has been vital to its success,” says Han. “This kind of collaboration that is deeply rooted in the community is key for promoting the sustainability of the intervention.” Also involved in the study are JHSON faculty members Jason Farley, PhD, MPH, ANP-BC, AACRN, FAAN, director of the REACH Initiative, Phyllis Sharps, PhD, RN, FAAN, Associate Dean for Community Programs and Initiatives, and post-doc Patty Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN.

To date 900 women living with HIV in Baltimore City have participated in CHECC- uP, enabling them to receive cervical cancer screenings and other potentially life-saving health care. As a result of the partnership, JHSON and OWEL have published scientific papers and also worked together to refine the study’s design.

Learn more:

Life and Legacy of Henrietta Lacks

Johns Hopkins to Name Research Building in Honor of Henrietta Lacks

Urban Health Institute Video on OWEL and CHECC- uP


Located in Baltimore, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing is a globally-recognized leader in nursing education, research and practice and ranks No. 1 nationally among graduate schools of nursing and No. 2 for DNP programs in the U.S. News & World Report 2019 rankings. In addition, the school is ranked by QS World University as the No. 3 nursing school in the world and is No.1 by College Choice for its master’s program. First opened in 1889, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing is celebrating throughout 2019 its 130th anniversary as a school and leader in nursing education and excellence. For more information, visit www.nursing.jhu.edu and www.hopkinsnursing130.org.

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