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Henrietta Lacks Excellence in Medicine Scholarship

Henrietta Lacks Excellence in Medicine Scholarship

The Henrietta Lacks Excellence in Medicine Scholarship, formerly named the Virginia Tech Carilion Dean's Council Diversity Excellence in Medicine Endowed Scholarship, was originally established in June 2021.  The fund was endowed by a commitment from Jackie Wieland, a Virginia Tech graduate, Dr. Mark Watts, and Dr. Frank Clark, who, at the time, were all members of the VTCSOM Dean's Advisory Council.   In October 2023, the Council voted unanimously to change the name to the Henrietta Lacks Excellence in Medicine Scholarship.  This fund is used to support medical students who are members of an underrepresented population of students in medicine.

Lacks, a Roanoke native, was diagnosed and treated for cervical cancer in Baltimore. She died on Oct. 4, 1951, not knowing her “immortal cells” were taken by her doctor for research. Her HeLa cells have played a significant role in supporting more than 70 years of medical discoveries. 

Lacks’ story has become a symbol of the untold contributions of marginalized communities to the field of medicine. On Oct. 4,  2023, as part of Virginia’s first official Lacks Day, VTCSOM joined with the City of Roanoke and partners at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and Carilion Clinic in unveiling statues of Lacks.

How to Give

Giving online is easy through the University's secure giving process. Please note that you can designate the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine as the area to give to, and the Henrietta Lacks Excellence in Medicine Scholarship as the fund for your gift. All inquiries related to giving to the medical school should be directed to:

Alicia Besenyei
Assistant Dean for Advancement
Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
1 Riverside Circle, Suite 107
Roanoke, VA 24016