The HeLa Health Equity Case Competition at The University of Michigan Ross School of Business is inspired by the life of Henrietta Lacks, whose cancer cells – code named HeLa – were taken without her knowledge in 1951. They became one of the most important tools in medicine—with damaging consequences for her family, many of whom often struggled to get access to the very health care advances their mother’s cells helped make possible. Unfortunately, there are numerous examples of historic research studies conducted on individuals—particularly within minority communities—without their knowledge or consent. These include the Tuskegee Syphilis Studies, the Human Radiation Experiments, and others.
The Henrietta Lacks Health Equity Case Competition strives keep the spotlight shining on racial health disparities. Its goal is to encourage future business, public health, and medical leaders to reframe their training and address health issues challenging communities of color. Through this competition, sponsors are also able to act on their DE&I commitments and source health equity solutions specifically targeted to their business goals.