Working on the Johns Hopkins medical campus in East Baltimore, I've found it impossible to remain unaware of tensions between the hospital and the neighborhood. While Hopkins has a world-renowned reputation for excellence in both research and medical care, it also has sown the seeds of mistrust in locals, some of whom believe that the hospital exploits the black families that live nearby. In one fascinating chapter of The Immortal Life, "Night Doctors," Rebecca Skloot relates some of these urban legends, offering the testimony of a relative of Henrietta Lacks: "'I'm telling you, I lived here in the fifties when they got Henrietta, and we weren't allowed to go anywhere near Hopkins. When it got dark and we were young, we had to be on the steps, or Hopkins might get us.'" As recently as the 1990s, residents brought lawsuits against Hopkins for failing to disclose high lead levels in homes ...
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