narratives around the immortal HeLa cell line developed from the cervical cancer cells of Henrietta Lacks. Dr. Wald sees the narratives about Henrietta Lacks and the HeLa cell line—particularly the racist language of contamination used to describe the cells themselves—as what she calls a “mythistory,” a mythic belief or story shared by a collective that produces conventional narratives and sets of belief beneath the level of conscious thought. Dr. Wald came to her current project by way of a central question running through her research: how do collectives come to believe collectively?
Dr. David Crews presents lessons from biology in HI’s Faculty Fellows Seminar on Health, Well-Being, Healing
By Saralyn McKinnon-Crowley
At this week’s Faculty Fellows Seminar, Dr. David Crews (Integrative Biology) spoke about the mutual interdependence of the environment and human biology. Dr. Crews argued that the environment is permanently contaminated by the mass production of synthetic chemicals and other factors, and it is now impossible to return it to pre-Industrial Revolution conditions. Biological effects from human exposure to these chemicals can occur generations after the initial encounter (a process known as synchronicity). The impact of these chemicals can be seen beyond gene expression and, indeed, extends to human psychological and emotional responses. To illustrate these changes, Dr. Crews used the example of endocrine disrupters (EDCs)—chemicals that disrupt the collection of glands that secrete hormones into the circulatory system to be carried to target organs.
Dr. Crews specifically discussed one type of EDC, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), man-made chemicals used widely in industrial and commercial products . Even though the industrialized world ceased use of PCBs in the 1970s, PCB levels are still present in organisms today and have even been found in the Arctic Circle.