Here’s a roundup of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside.
* * *
Historical marker to Henrietta Lacks installed in Roanoke
A state historical marker to Henrietta Lacks has been erected in Roanoke near her birthplace and childhood home.
Lacks, who later moved to Halifax County when she was four, is famous because when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the 1950s, cells were removed from her body without permission. Those cells are still multiplying and have been used in research that have led to multiple medical breakthroughs, including the polio vaccine developed by Jonas Salk, as well as research into cancer, AIDS, radiation sickness and other conditions. More than 11,000 patents have been developed using her cells, which have called attention to the commercialization of genetic research without a patient’s permission. In 2021 the chief scientist for the World Health Organization said, “I cannot think of any other single cell line or lab reagent that’s been used to this extent and has resulted in so many advances.” Her story was the subject of a book by Rebecca Skloot, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”
A historical marker to Lacks went up in Halifax County, where she is buried, in 2010. There are now efforts underway in both Roanoke and Halifax County to erect statues to Lacks. (See our story, “Statue to ‘the Mother of Modern Medicine’ to come to South Boston.“) The Roanoke statue is scheduled to be dedicated in October; fundraising for the South Boston statue is still underway. A statue to Lacks was installed in 2021 at the University of Bristol in Great Britain.
The Roanoke historical marker is in Perry Park on 12th Street Northwest in Roanoke. The driving force behind the marker was Roanoke minister and historian Nelson Harris, who has been active in securing other historical markers around the Roanoke Valley, many of them to Black history figures. (See our story “Nelson Harris is Roanoke’s historical marker champion.”)
* * *
Registration now open for Smith Mountain Lake Business Expo
Officials from the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce have announced that sponsorship and exhibitor registration is now open for the 19th Smith Mountain Lake Business Expo. The Expo will take place on Friday, May 5, from noon to 4 p.m.
The Expo is free and open to the public, presenting an opportunity for residents and visitors to engage with Smith Mountain Lake-area business professionals.
Applications for sponsors and exhibitors are available online at visitsmithmountainlake.com/sml-business-expo. Those interested may also contact Stanley at 540-721-1203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
* * *
Event set to promote export opportunities for early-stage STEM companies
The Virginia Small Business Development International Business Development program and their partners will host a half-day session in Charlottesville on May 18 to advise early-stage STEM companies with export opportunities.
“Many tech companies don’t fit the traditional exporter mold,” said Aaron Miller, Director of the International Business Development program at the Virginia SBDC in a statement. “But even early stage innovators can capitalize on their significant international potential when equipped with a strong foundation of trade knowledge.”
The program will feature panels on Securing Intellectual Property Rights in Foreign Markets, Top Regulatory Compliance Issues for STEM Exporters, and Data Privacy and Security Responsibilities for Globalizing STEM Firms, as well as a keynote conversation with Antwaun Griffin, Amazon’s Head of Socially Responsible Purchasing.
The cost is $40 for first participant, $26 for each additional participant.