News in brief

Woman credited as the ‘mother of modern medicine’ celebrated by the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian has unveiled a portrait of Henrietta Lacks, the black tobacco farmer who ended up changing the world.

Lacks is credited for the polio vaccine, gene mapping and in vitro fertilization to name a few despite her cells being harvested without her consent.

In 1951, Henrietta, a young mother of five visited The Johns Hopkins Hospital, which was one of only a few hospitals to treat poor African-Americans. She was complaining of vaginal bleeding. Upon examination, renowned gynecologist Dr. Howard Jones discovered a large, malignant tumour on her cervix.

For a long time most of the public didn't know her contribution to modern medicine. She died in 1951 at the age of 31 from an aggressive form of cervical cancer. During her treatment, a surgeon cut cells from her cervix. Those cells became the first human cell line to reproduce outside the body. They came to be known as HeLa cells, from the first two letters of her first and last names, and became invaluable to medical researchers.

The oil-on-linen work, "Henrietta Lacks (HeLa): The Mother of Modern Medicine" will hang inside one of the main entrances of the National Portrait Gallery through November.

Delta Airlines launch initiative to address female gap in aviation by flying 120 girls to NASA

Delta Air Lines recently flew 120 girls from Salt Lake City, Utah, to NASA in Houston as part of an initiative to close the gender gap in aviation.

Girls aged between 12 and18 joined the fifth International Girls in Aviation Day celebrations at the headquarters. They are all pursuing science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) in school. The trip was a part of Delta’s effort to encourage more women to enter the male-dominated field.

Beth Poole, general manager of pilot development at Delta said: “We’re taking ownership to improve gender diversity by exposing girls at a young age and providing a pipeline so that 10 years from now, they will be the pilots in the Delta cockpit inspiring generations of women who follow.”

Delta’s initiative addresses the broader problem in the aviation industry — one that’s been recognised by The International Civil Aviation Organization, a specialised UN Agency that provides a global forum for member states to adopt and implement international aviation standards.

Since Delta started WING Flight, 600 female students have participated.